It was a defining moment when the young Saba’ Al-Khalayleh stood up and asked the government representative in one of the halls to recount the results of the recent decentralized elections in Zarqa, because she spotted a mistake. She did not hesitate to perform her duty as a "local" observer, despite the fact that her claim electrified the atmosphere in the room to the point that the counting manager said: "If your claim of error is incorrect, you will leave the room."
ActionAid works with local communities in the Arab region to develop the capacity of women and young leaders to advocate for their rights. In addition, the organization works with Syrian refugee affected by the conflict in Syria to ensure their needs are met. Saba was part of the Youth Civic Engagement and Political Participation aiming to support young people as one of the most important factor in social, economic, and political change in Jordan, and studying the obstacles that affect the participation of youth and their integration into political life. The project also focuses on giving young people an opportunity to express their opinions and need in the decision-making process, programs, and initiative, and monitor the decentralization process and elections in Jordan.
"I was sure about my position," said 24-year-old Saba’, “I have received a two day training with ActionAid as part of the Local Election Observation Project, and I knew my job thoroughly. We were clearly informed about various violations and abuses.”
"I ended up staying in the room and the employee thanked me in front of everyone after placing me in a very embarrassing position. I insisted on my position and the result was satisfactory."
This experience is described by Saba as a significant and influential moment for her personally. It emphasized the importance of her role as an ""local" observer , and the importance of correct training and guidance for youth who wish to participate in the elections, not just as voters, but as supervisors and monitors too.
Saba’ learned about the project, which she describes as "a wonderful experience," through the Youth Council in Zarqa Municipality, founded and supported by ActionAid. She decided to join the project motivated by her curiosity to discover the nature of the decentralized elections, her passion for volunteering, and a strong desire for positive change in her society.
Saba’is studying journalism and media at Zarqa Private University. She is learning a lot from her studies, but the experience of political participation through election supervision was different. "It was a wonderful experience,” said Saba’, “I really felt that I had a role and influence, and that I was respected by everyone. I felt a comprehensive change in my personality. I became more confident and more willing to voice my views strongly without fear."
Saba’ said that if she participated in the elections supervision process for a second time, she will be more stringent and accurate.
"Opportunities for political participation for young women in Jordan are virtually non-existent.” Saba’ continues, “This project is a quality addition and an opportunity for real work and influence through which I felt more confident in myself as a monitor of the decentralized elections that Jordan is experiencing for the first time."
As part of the project, Saba’ invites young women in Jordan, in general, and the governorates, in particular, to take part in various political activities, not only social, cultural, and artistic ones. It is important to eliminate the stereotype of the youth's rejection of political participation and the prevailing belief that "politics lead to prison,” as she said.
“As young men and women, we have a lot of energy to dedicate to change processes and this must be made the most of. Personally, I have faced my family's refusal to participate in events, initiatives, and civil society activities, but I overcame this rejection with love, passion, and faith in the importance of my role as a young woman in this field.”
"I want to prove to all that we, as youth, have a fundamental role in society and the right to lead, manage, and serve our community."