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The youth era

Sep 16,2021 - Last updated at Sep 16,2021

Jordan has one of the world's youngest populations, as 63 per cent of its citizens today are under 30 years old, according to UNICEF. Despite this, many legislative, procedural, and, most importantly, economic barriers prevent young Jordanians from actively participating in public work.

Furthermore, the youth in Jordan are vastly underrepresented in official political institutions, such as the legislature and executive branch. This, in turn, contradicts the principle of equitable representation for all segments of society and impedes national efforts to increase youth and women political participation.

Youth are the future leaders of society, according to His Majesty the King, if given an environment that fosters their ambitions and aspirations for a better tomorrow.

If young people are not actively involved in the democratic reform process, frustration and lack of participation may weaken and disrupt any reform process, preventing it from reaching its ultimate goal. Thus, youth participation is a vital resource and means of political development.

In June 2021, His Majesty King Abdullah entrusted the Royal Committee to Modernise the Political System to materialise the political reform and uphold Jordanians' right to enhance democratic participation and empower youth and women.

This will include drafting recommendations for the local administration law, drafting proposals for the election and political parties’ laws, and amending the constitution to include election, party, youth and women empowerment.

After three months of work, we can safely say that some lost hopes have been reclaimed. One of the main sources of this renewed hope was the King's trusting 10 young men and women under 35 to participate in this modernization process and represent Jordanian youth.

This ray of hope can be seen in all 12 governorates of Jordan. The youth feel represented for the first time in official political channels, closer to decision-making circles, and that one day they too could lead the way to better serve the country and its people. A healthy political ecosystem and a sense of hope require us to adhere to His Majesty's progressive vision, involving more youth and women in Jordanian politics, and creating a modern and inclusive political system under Hashemite leadership.

Thus, the Youth Empowerment Subcommittee has made several recommendations to increase youth participation in Jordanian decision making. These included lowering the age of nomination from 30 to 25, which would increase youth participation in the Lower House and motivate them to join parties.

Reduce the voting age. Other recommendations included increasing the number of women in elected national and local bodies, offering financial support the youth arms of the political parties, giving political parties more freedom to operate, including inside universities.

To remove the condition of resignation by civil servants who wish to run for elections, with a clause of unpaid leave, which was a huge barrier for youth and women to enter the elections race.

Certainly, political participation is not the only concern of today's youth. For this, the Committee is also working on a "Proposal Paper" that will address issues such as employment, education, public freedoms and civil liberties, and meaningful opportunities for youth to volunteer in their communities. 

“A life-changing opportunity”, is how I and most of my Jordanian peers see the Committee. We are all determined to seize this once in a lifetime opportunity to actively progress towards key, practical democratic milestones.  

Today, we cannot allow skepticism, fear of change, or a reluctance to embrace modernization of Jordanian politics to squander the vast potential of our tremendous young leaders, who are eager and passionate about contributing to Jordan's second centennial journey of prosperity and success.

The write is a member of the Royal Committee to Modernise the Political System 

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