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    25-Oct-2020

Apathy stands in way of youth’s political participation

 

The Jordan Times

 

 
AMMAN — Finding a motivational approach to enhance youth’s political participation by ending the conventional political benchmarks would make young people in the Kingdom “less disenchanted when hearing about politics”, according to a group of young Jordanians.
 
“Complex subject that is hard to understand most of the time”, “it is sensitive and tense”, “stressful and brings about pessimism”, “interesting but complicated”, and “blurred and young persons have insufficient access to it” were the most dominant responses to interviews conducted by The Jordan Times with a group of young Jordanians.
 
“As long as young people remain playing vital roles only in movements, initiatives and public gatherings and are not fully engaged in political decision making and party activism, the outcomes will remain the same,” Dalin Khatatneh, 27, told The Jordan Times.
 
Maria Saed, 28, said that as soon as she hears about politics she tries to change the subject due to perceiving it as “dull and irrelevant to her life”.
 
Saed said that the last time she read anything relating to politics was three years ago.
 
“We never see any difference and there has not been any progress regarding youth’s political participation which turns them away,” she said.
 
Young persons have limited influence, said 25-year-old Noor Shabsough.
 
“The young generation is still sometimes viewed as self-centric and inexperienced,” Shabsough said. 
 
Recently, Minister of Youth Mohammad Salamah Al Nabulsi said that the ministry would work on enhancing the participation of young people in the upcoming parliamentary elections, pointing out to “the urgent need of having young people freely choose whoever represents their ideas, hopes and aspirations in the House of Representatives”.
 
Tamam Riyati, a member of Youth Ministry’s Qiyadiyah programme’s executive committee and who was also a member of the Parliament’s youth and sports committee, said that young Jordanians are the “true agents of change”.
 
“There is no doubt that Jordan has paid substantial attention to youth, but in order to make a meaningful change, there should be a true political will that starts by changing the age from which Jordanians are eligible to run for municipal and parliamentary elections,” Riyati said.
 
Encouraging and boosting the concepts of entrepreneurship, leadership, social solidarity and public welfare through initiatives, campaigns and various institutions are effective and “of utmost importance”, but they must not stop with the end of their programmes, Riyati added.
 
“Young Jordanians are politically conscious, they are innovative and dynamic citizens who make positive contribution in every possible way,” she noted, adding, there is a need for a “fair” participatory structure by focusing more on youth issues.
 
The National Youth Strategy (2019-2025), which stands out as a positive response to the great political, social, economic and cultural changes that have had a great impact on the Jordanian youth, “reflects the great deal of attention paid to the younger generation”, according to the Ministry of Youth.
 
“Speeches and thinking have gone far beyond that level; attention is now also given to other issues that are linked with the interests and priorities of young people in political, economic and cultural aspects,” according to the strategy.
 
Jordan has one of the youngest populations in the world, with 63 per cent of its population under the age of 30, according to UNICEF website. “However, the great potential they see in the world and in themselves is often at odds with the political and economic realities they face as they enter their adult years,” according to UNICEF.
 
Economist Mazen Marji told The Jordan Times on Saturday that “the economic problems of Jordanians affect their priorities and unemployment constitutes a considerable burden”.
 
“There are a lot of talks about youth, but there should be a political development,” he said.
 
According to Marji, youth opportunities remain limited due to the diminishing interest in youth centres, which mainly focus on extracurricular aspects that reinforce their self-esteem, broaden their social skills, create awareness and boost their creative force in being active citizens.
 
A 2017 Ministry of Youth study revealed that there are “structural problems” in the establishment of nearly 200 youth centres, mainly their uneven geographical spread and percentage of visitors.
 
The study also identified weaknesses in the programmes presented in the youth centres and the absence of the concept of sustainability in their programmes and businesses, according to the Youth Ministry’s strategy.
 
According to the Department of Statistics, the unemployment rate in Jordan increased to 23 per cent during the second quarter of 2020.
 
“Young Jordanians are the asset that fosters a rapid and sustainable development across the Kingdom’s various sectors,” Marji said. 
 
 

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