Summary of a Policy Analysis Paper
Strengthening the Role of Youth in Decision-making Positions
Prepared by: Rose Al-Masry, Fadi Al-Shafei, Fouad Banat
The Overall Objective
to present policy alternatives that aim to enhance the access of Palestinian youth to decision-making positions.
The Policy Problem
There is a large gap between the percentage of youth representation in decision-making positions (less than 1%) and the percentage of youth in the Palestinian society (22%), which raises the need to enhance the role of youth to overcome the crisis facing the Palestinian political system.
The most prominent barriers to youth access to decision-making positions
First: unemployment: The unemployment rate among youth graduates ( aged between 19-29 years), holding an intermediate diploma or higher, is 53%, constituting 27% of the total unemployed, 36% in the West Bank compared to 74% in the Gaza Strip. The female unemployment rate is 66%, compared to 39% for males.
Second: The division and the disruption of the democratic process: The division reduced the space for freedoms and political participation and prevented the youth from participating in democratic and free elections. The candidacy of 36 electoral lists in the canceled elections in 2021, and the emergence of fully independent "youth" lists, indicate the growing awareness of the importance of the political participation of the youth.
Third: The disruption of Student elections in universities: The number of universities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is estimated to be 49 institutions in 2019, with more than 221,000 students enrolled. Since the beginning of the division in 2007, students have been deprived of their right to hold student councils' elections in Gaza Strip, except for the Islamic University, whose student council was appointed by acclamation because other student frameworks boycotted the elections.
Fourth: the reluctance of youth to participate in politics: The results of public opinion polls published by the Arab World Center for Research and Development (AWRAD) in 2016, showed the low participation of youth (aged between 15-29 years) in political and organizational (partisan) spheres, noting that the youth are a segment that represents more than 30% of the population in the West Bank and Gaza.
Fifth: The absence of youth leadership in civil society organizations: According to the researcher Hiba Sabri, the percentage of youth, both males and females, holding decision-making positions in civil society organizations does not exceed 1%. This is due to issues specific to these organizations, most notably, the weakness of the democratic structure and their failure to adopt a youthful agenda.
Sixth: The bylaws of political parties: Political parties are the gateway to the Palestinian political system. However, the internal systems of the parties and the prevailing patriarchal culture impose restrictions that inhibit the renewal process and impede young people's access to leadership bodies,
First: launching an initiative to activate the democratic life from below: This alternative is based on activating the elections from below, i.e. holding student, union, professional, and grass-roots union elections, which lead to holding local and general elections.
Second: Adopting economic and social policies to empower the youth and develop their entrepreneurial spirit: This alternative suggests addressing the economic, social, and cultural barriers that prevent the youth from accessing decision-making positions, most notably the scarcity of economic opportunities, poverty, and unemployment.
Third: Adopting a national plan that enables the youth to reach decision-making positions: This alternative requires the participation of the youth in developing the plan, along with the official level, civil society and parties. This includes drafting a code of honor that guarantees the presence of a "quota" for the youth in leadership positions and guarantees empowering and supporting the youth.
Comparison between alternatives
The alternatives presented are indispensable; They are complementary to each other. The three alternatives are essential to enhancing youth participation in decision-making positions; therefore, the paper suggests working on all alternatives in parallel.