Youth Embrace Inclusive Space for Participation in Local Governance in Jordan

Sunday, April 10, 2016 - 18:13

Syrian refugee youth in Jordan have found themselves remaining in a state of uncertainty five years after the conflict in Syria broke out. Little did many know that after the war broke out leaving them fleeing to Jordan and neighboring countries would they stay this long! Their uncertainty is not only worsened by not knowing when they will return home but the difficult situation they live in Jordan with many of their needs unmet.

Despite this hopeless situation, some Syrian refugee youth have found hope in a new Zarqa City Youth Shadow Council. These responded to our organization call for youth in the Zarqa City interested in training on good governance and advocacy in 2015. Given that Actionaid Arab regional initiative works with both host communities and refugees, they were jointly trained with local youth in Zarqa and later elected as part of the Zarqa City Youth Shadow council. Asked how they will utilize their skills after the training and becoming part of the Council when they are refugees with no political rights, Heba Harir,25 smiles back at me and says;

Being part of the Council gives us hope. We will be able to identify urban refugee youth issues while supporting Jordanian youth in their plans. This will help build social cohesion.

The Jordanian youth on analyzing their situation have found their issues such as unemployment and limited space to participate in decision making processes similar to those of refugee youth. This realization has had many Jordanian youth appreciate the need to work together with refugee youth after all; they all face similar problems.  Ibrahim Sahouri the President of the newly established Zarqa City Youth Shadow Council emphasized this saying;

We are all youth and it does not matter if some are Jordanians or Syrians.Inclusiveness is very important for good governance. Our cause will remain to influence any decisions that affect us all

Actionaid Arab Regional Initiative in conjunction with Zarqa Local Development Unit has this year established one Youth Shadow council in Zarqa City. The Council will take the lead on mobilizing youth to identify their issues of concern in Zarqa and advocacy to influence matters affecting them in all aspects. They will also focus on reporting on how the leadership responds to their needs. Their first plan of action is to identify their needs and lobby Parliament for a law that allows a quarter of youth positions at all decision making levels and an amendment of the Jordanian Constitution to reduce the minimum age for one to be elected to Parliament to accommodate more youth Participation at all decision making levels. The Youth in Jordan form over 65% thus their motivation to increase their numbers in all decision making levels.