Promoting social engagement among young people
Title: Social Participation and Community Engagement by Youth (SPACE)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Jordan and Lebanon
Overall term: 2019 to 2022
Many countries in the Middle East are still dominated by traditional models of society based on an unspoken agreement that the state is responsible for meeting people’s needs and for their security but in return is not obliged to act transparently and may restrict participation in political life.
For young people in countries where this system predominates there are practically no opportunities to get involved in political processes and work towards greater social cohesion and peaceful coexistence. They frequently encounter obstacles and resistance when they try to assert their demands. In many places, it has proven almost impossible to bring about social change.
There are very few ways in which young people can help to drive peaceful social change. Equally, there are very few physical and virtual spaces in which they can express themselves and which they can shape to meet their own needs.
In this context, young people from displaced families often experience multiple disadvantages given the absence of any integration strategy in the few places they are allowed to stay. There is nowhere for young people from different backgrounds to share new experiences as a way of breaking down prejudice and strengthening social cohesion. The opportunities for them to be involved in shaping change are very limited, even within those development cooperation projects set up to work closely with young people.
Both in Lebanon and Jordan, there are local and national youth organisations that have developed effective approaches to helping young people get involved in their societies and communities. Especially in these regions, however, there are very few mechanisms that allow such youth organisations to learn from each other and for young people to meet and share ideas.
The capacity of young people to influence the creation of peaceful spaces in their social environment has been strengthened.
The project contributes to social cohesion and the integration of disadvantaged groups, especially refugees. The approach involves giving young people the skills and resources they need to make a positive contribution towards shaping their society. To this end, the project offers a range of participation and dialogue formats. It also promotes a constructive relationship between the state and social groups and creates spaces in which civil society groups can operate.
The measures are designed to involve young people in the implementation of selected development cooperation projects in Jordan and Lebanon.
The project improves the level of participation in the shaping and use of virtual and physical public spaces. There are also plans to establish a regional forum for peer learning, dialogue and the sharing of ideas and information on how best to support young people.