Regional workshop on youth participation in policy process: Towards an effective involvement in national policy formulation

Empowering youth and enabling them to play an active role within their societies is considered to be a main priority for UNESCO. Within its efforts to promote a greater involvement for youth in planning and decision making in their respective countries, UNESCO regional Bureau for Education in the Arab states organized a regional workshop in Beirut entitled: "Youth participation in policy process: From monitoring projects to policies in the Arab region".

Over 30 ministries' officials and NGOs' representatives from nine Arab countries met from 26 to 28 May 2015 in Beirut for this workshop focusing on three main objectives:

- Promoting the participatory policy process with regards to young men and women in the Arab region;

- Building the capacity of youth NGOs to take part in youth policy process;

- Providing knowledge sharing and networking opportunities among regional youth NGOs and stakeholders

Over three days, participants took part in lively sessions to discuss the different aspects of drawing effective youth policies. Case studies and good practices from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Morocco, Bahrain, and Mauritania were showcased, as policy experts from all over the Arab world shared their experiences in youth policy formulation, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.

The workshop also addressed major topics that are seen crucial to enhancing youth participation, and drawing related policies, including the role of political parties in promoting youth participation and encouraging youth-led initiatives, the importance of gender mainstreaming in national youth policies, and media as an effective tool for monitoring as well as youth mobilization.

“The workshop was very successful on the pedagogical level, and it has a very positive impact on participants, particularly in terms of policy formulation", stated Dr. Hassan Al-Arafi, Professor of law from Morocco.

Mr. Jihad Nammour, NGO director in Lebanon considered the workshop "very interesting in terms of exchange of expertise and experiences, and coordination between associations and political parties on youth issues”. Mr. Nammour emphasized on the significance of networking and wide participation between all involved agents in youth policies formulation, praising this workshop for providing the ideal framework for this cooperation.

"In the Arab region, youth participation and engagement is a priority, not only from human rights perspective but also for the sake of social, economic and political stability", said UNESCO Programme Specialist Seiko Sugita, in her opening speech. "This is why UNESCO supports national processes and partners in formulating and implementing the youth policy", she added.

"The primary aim of the workshop is to share and learn from each other, and enhance our knowledge in applying monitoring tools and approaches in the policy implementation process", said Ms. Sugita, who confirmed that this workshop comes in the context of achieving the main common goal: to promote youth participation and empowerment in the fast and slow evolving context of Arab societies.