RESEARCH THEMES /

Youth Opportunities: Education, Employment and Social Inclusion

Youth in the Arab Mediterranean Countries (AMCs) are the largest demographic with almost a third of the total population aged 15 to 30. However, despite the opportunities this large group represents in terms of economic growth and development, Arab Mediterranean youth face a series of obstacles and challenges that prevent these opportunities from being fully realized. Indeed, youth in the Arab region have the highest unemployment rates, mainly due to inadequate education systems.

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Youth Empowerment: Social and Political Mobilization and Participation

Despite their crucial role in sparking massive protests across the Middle East that have overthrown authoritarian leaders and/or pushed for reforms, youth are still under-represented in governance programs and hold less power than elders in any political system. However, they display a growing interest in participating more actively in shaping the future of their countries.  

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Youth Cultures, Values, Representations and Social Conditions

Considering the SAHWA Project’s overall goal (a full understanding of youth trends in the AMCs), the analysis of the structural and economic factors that shape the lives of young people, even if necessary and relevant, is not sufficient. To address the lack of research in this field, the SAHWA project encompasses a special focus on the cultural and symbolic work of young people, in an effort to give meaning to and handle the constraints and resources linked to the structural position of youth.

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Gender Equity

As a youth-focused project, SAHWA seeks to promote a gendered approach to youth to give better results overall. These results range from the understanding of the role of women in the ongoing political, economic, social and cultural transformation to the significance of states and institutions in reproducing and maintaining existing inequalities, particularly between young men and women in Arab Mediterranean countries.

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Migration and International Mobility

Since the outbreak of the so-called Arab Spring, the European media and political leaders displayed a growing concern about the impact of the political developments in the MENA region on the migration flows. Without taking into account the sensation-seeking attitude of some media and politicians, there is evidence that migration played a key role in the protests that sparked across the region. Nonetheless, those migration trends are not an exclusive outcome of the massive protests in the region: they had existed a long time before 2011 and need to be analyzed in a wider perspective. Hence the need to research these issues in a broader perspective.

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Comparative Transition Experiences

While the ongoing transformation in the AMCs have occurred, other countries and regions have witnessed similar massive protests (sometimes leading to change), where young people were also prominent. This is particularly the case of earlier uprisings in Eastern Europe. Indeed, in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, young people were involved in many political developments, ranging from revolution to regime change. However, this youth involvement did not always have a transformative effect. Similarly, the Arab Mediterranean youth played a pivotal role in the so-called Arab Spring, but this initial role did not necessarily translate into an improvement of their living conditions, nor an immediate response to their demands.

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Public Policies and International Cooperation

Education, employment, health, housing, migration and social protection are, among others, not only issues that particularly affect young people in the AMCs but also key domains tackled by a wide range of public policies and international cooperation programs. Policy measures and initiatives in this field are considered to have effects on young people.

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