Most of the population in the MENA region is under 30 years yet they remain under-represented in formal political processes. While young people are often involved in informal political processes, such as activism or civic engagement, they are underrepresented in national political institutions such as parliaments. Polling has shown that they have little confidence in these institutions. In 2021, the Arab Barometer reported that only 28% of young people from the age of 18 to 29 have trust in their public institutions.
The Arab Barometer also reveals that in Lebanon and Morocco young men and women have expressed low levels of trust in national institutions. Despite some countries having undertaken initiatives to increase young people’s representation in these institutions – for instance Morocco through its electoral quota for youth – most young adults are largely disengaged from formal political participation.
WFD’s approach to youth inclusion in MENA
When people are excluded from political power, or if the real concerns of citizens are not addressed, then democracy is not living up to its promise. That is why inclusion is a central part of our work. WFD works to support the political inclusion of many marginalised groups around the world, including young people.
WFD is active in MENA working to strengthen inclusion of the views, perspectives, and concerns of youth in the work of parliaments. Youth inclusion is an area where WFD seeks to influence change. This is by implementing an innovative approach that tackles some of the root causes of parliaments’ limited attention to youth issues, drawing on WFD’s strategic expertise.
WFD teams in Lebanon and Morocco are working with selected youth groups and the national parliaments to enhance their collaboration and promote the inclusion of youth in political processes. Our work with youth ensures that they have the capacity, skills, and knowledge to engage effectively with parliaments. At the same time, we work with the parliaments to support their engagement with youth on key policy issues. WFD also aims to create avenues for parliaments and youth to directly collaborate.