Youth Civic Engagement in The Arab Region: An Analysis of Key Outcomes

Type Conference Paper - Takaful 2012 Second Annual Conference on Arab Philanthropy and Civic Engagement June 10 - 12, 2012 Cairo, Egypt
Title Youth Civic Engagement in The Arab Region: An Analysis of Key Outcomes
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
In the wake of the Arab Awakening, development actors are increasingly looking to civic
engagement initiatives to harness the recent surge of political activism by Arab youth and to
promote more participatory forms of governance and equitable development within the region.
However, the impacts of these programs are largely untested, leaving program planners and
policymakers to rely on assumptions and conventional wisdom when designing strategies for
promoting civic engagement among Arab youth. To help fill this evidence gap, Mercy Corps
recently undertook research into successful promoting of and expected benefits from youth
participation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The study provides strong evidence on
what changes to Arab youth’s political voice, social capital, propensity towards political violence,
and employability are likely to result from increasing their levels of civic engagement. The results
show that few of these changes are automatic. Rather, youth civic engagement initiatives must
make deliberate efforts to influence these areas, including doing more to reach young women,
youth from rural areas, and at-risk youth whose voices are the most underrepresented in public
debates and decisions. The findings carry important implications for government, donor, and
development agencies’ thinking and priorities regarding youth policies and programming in the
MENA region, and for additional avenues of research.

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