In a bid to enhance youth Participation in the Political Process in Jordan, Zarqa City Youth Shadow Council and five universities in Jordan have formed a Coalition and launched a campaign to see more youth in Parliament. Middle East University, Sumaya University of Technology (PSUT), Jordan University, Zaitoneh University, Jadara University and Zarqa City Youth Shadow Council launched the campaign at Sumaya University. The campaign was graced and supported by various University Leaders, National Democratic Institute (NDI), Actionaid and by the Hon Member of Parliament Hend Al Fayz.
Feeling left out in the policy making processes for long which is very vital for strategic development, the youth decided to take a step towards changing the situation through coming together in solidarity to influence a change in policies that have excluded them from many decision making spaces and processes. Articles 64 and 70 of the Constitution of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan puts the age for entry into Parliament to 30 years for the House of Representatives and 40 years for the Senate. More to that, University Students are prohibited from participating in the Political process while at University.
These Laws directly limit many youth from Parliament until later and when they are finally considered ‘of age’ to join Parliament, their knowledge on good governance limited for them to enact laws that are inclusive and facilitate transparency and accountability. This in turn affects development.
The Coalition at the same time launched a survey on the campaign and identification of youth that would be suitable as Parliamentary leaders. A mock debate by various youth was conducted with several speeches to show case the youth abilities as leaders. The Youth appealed to all youth and leaders to support the campaign to allow accommodation of more youth in Parliament. The Coalition concurrently sought member’s views for a youth quarter at all decision making levels. Many youth during the campaign shared that qualifications to Parliament as stipulated in the Constitution also limit potential leaders as only certain categories of persons are accepted to stand for Parliament living out others which is detrimental as development requires all categories of persons for it to take shape. The youth similarly felt that many leaders are not in touch with todays global and youth realities to adjust fast or come up with solutions to address their issues thus their desire to get more youth in Parliament who share similar challenges. The limited numbers of youth in Parliament is considered to deter the necessary changes needed to enable the Country remain stable, yet developing at a pace and in line with national and global realities. This calls for an increase of young leaders who are well attuned to today’s fast changing world and flexible enough to put in place policies that are inclusive and facilitate processes that lead to fast solutions that meet Citizen’s needs.
Actionaid ARI supported the formation of the coalition and launch of the campaign as the Youth make the bulk of the population in Jordan yet the least in decision making processes. Additionally, Jordan is signatory to the International Civil and Political rights which commits it to facilitate every citizen’s participation in the political process thus Actionaid eager to support the country enhance citizen’s political participation through amendment of currents laws in line with international laws it has committed to or enact new laws that facilitate Citizen political participation better. At the age of 25 - 27 that the youth propose to be set as age for entry into the House of Representatives, one has completed their education and with brilliant ideas vital for development. While Youth, many have excellent ideas that need to be tapped into. Excluding Youth from decision making processes not only serves to dismiss new excellent development ideas that are required to ignite positive change and development but brain drain as many youth in Jordan and middle East have resorted to migrating to developed countries where they feel they have better opportunities for their aspirations to bloom. Exclusion of youth and other citizens from the decision making processes commences with discriminatory policies thus the need to facilitate enactment of fair, just, inclusive policies that also facilitate transparency, citizen’s participation and accountability. ActionAid ARI has committed to facilitate the campaign through bringing together various youth, national leaders and CSOs to form a consensus on the minimum age in Parliament, quarter for youth and qualifications to influence Parliament amend any laws that exclude youth from the different decision making levels and processes and put in place laws that increase their participation. The organization is concurrently training youth in leadership, good governance and advocacy to equip them with knowledge and skills to enable them take on the leadership mantle effectively. In Solidarity with the Youth the first step of the many steps the youth have to take to cause the change they wish to have has been made. Watch the space!