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More support needed to help youth contribute to development

By Camille Dupire - Feb 21,2018 - Last updated at Feb 21,2018

Speakers take part in a discussion panel on the youth well-being policy review in Amman on Tuesday (Photo courtesy of I-Dare)

AMMAN — Jordanian youth should raise their voices and speak loudly to advocate for their rights, a top UN official said on Tuesday.

Constanza Farina, UNESCO representative to Jordan, made her remark at the Youth Well-Being Policy Review of Jordan, held by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Centre and the European Union.

Representatives of youth organisations and local and international institutions took part in the event, which aimed to address the challenges faced by the Jordanian youth, and the solutions provided by concerned stakeholders.

Discussions were based on the Youth Well-Being Policy Review recently published by the OECD Centre in collaboration with the EU in Jordan, highlighting the impact the Jordanian youth have on economic and social development.

 “Youth is a formidable asset for Jordan’s economy. But it will take new policy action to fully tap its potential and turn it into sustainable economic and social gains,” said economist Ian Brand-Weiner from the OECD, noting that with close to 70 per cent of the population being aged below 30, Jordan is "a very youthful country". 

In a discussion session focused on youth entrepreneurship, Kamel Nabulsi, founder of Tammey for Youth Development, a social enterprise that works to foster learning, participation and innovation among young people in the Arab world, said: “We should improve the coordination between institutions and youth on the creation and empowerment of work and entrepreneurship.”

The need to strengthen youth-led entrepreneurship was also highlighted by the EU representative, who announced that the European Union is currently working on a 30 million euro intervention for Jordan this year, which will focus on innovation and entrepreneurship.

According to the policy review, close to one-third of young people in Jordan are neither in employment nor in education or training (NEET), with women forming triple the NEET rate that of young men.

For representative of the youth Ayar Amr, the issue lies in the fact that "we don't hear about opportunities. There are no supporting agencies that fund us for education abroad", calling for further support to youth-led initiatives.

Responding to this claim, Youth Minister Hadithah Khreisha stated: "Our Ministry started developing the youth strategy 2018-2025, which is based on youth entrepreneurship and empowerment, among others," adding “being on the threshold of a new phase, the ministry looks at all the issues that concerns youth with the utmost transparency".

Calls for further transparency were formulated by various speakers like Brand-Weiner, who called on the ministry to increase its budget and transparency in the implementation of their projects, so as to better respond to the needs of the local youth, while maintaining legitimacy and effectiveness.

He went on to outline the various challenges facing the Jordanian youth, citing "education, employment, health, active citizenship and subjective well-being [such as life satis faction, politics, family...]". 

On civic engagement, the policy review highlighted that youth participation remains "limited". "While youth recognise the importance of political participation, only a very small percentage is member of formal civic groups: 2.7 per cent of a charitable society and 2.3 per cent of a youth, cultural or sports organisation," the review read.

Director at the King Hussein Foundation Aida Essaid urged for civil society organisations to be empowered to take part on political decision.

Attaché and programme manager of education and youth at the EU, Jacob Arts concluded: “The engagement of the EU towards youth in Jordan is directly linked to the priorities of the recommended National Youth Strategy, such as entrepreneurship, education, good governance, citizenship, employment and prevention of violent extremism."

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