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Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Youth and Development

Queen Rania draws attention to the importance of the broad participation of youth in economic and political development of society

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - Amman) Joining around 100 students in an interactive dialogue session, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah drew attention to the importance of the broad participation of youth in economic and political development of society.

The dialogue was the second in a series which will bring together students from different parts of the Kingdom with officials, allowing youth to take an active role in issues of concern to the country at large.

Seated in a casual setting at the new Nature Center of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, students from the INJAZ program were inspired and supported by Queen Rania’s interest in their issues and active participation in the dialogue.

INJAZ, the country’s first initiative aimed at building the skills of Jordan’s future workforce to help the economy compete globally, was launched as a Jordanian non-profit organization by Queen Rania in 2001.

Queen Rania noted “while youth make up 70% of our people, they represent 100% of our future. Their economic and political participation has a great effect on our shared future.”

Stressing that bringing about positive results requires systematic and open channels of communication between youth and decision makers, Queen Rania underlined that we are all stakeholders and have a shared responsibility. “Governments alone cannot affect change, nor can the people, rather both must connect and communicate,” she said.

Her Majesty said while the political will is present in privatization efforts for example, more work should be exerted on a national level to raise people’s awareness on its benefits. “Individuals have a major role in making their voices heard, based on concrete knowledge and on raising awareness on the issue,” Queen Rania told the youth.

With over 60% of the Jordanian population under the age of 25, Queen Rania is active in promoting a better understanding of the needs of young people and the means to address them, supporting initiatives to promote communication and dialogue among young people and with the nation’s decision-makers saying “youth are the tools of change and we must reap the benefits of their contributions.”

Queen Rania noted that instead of a culture of expectation we should instill a culture of participation led by youth who represent more than half of the society.

To allow for networking and clear channels of communication between youth and various sectors of society, the session was moderated by Mr. Ghassan Nuqul, Vice Chairman of Nuqul Group and included Deputy Mohammad Arsalan, Mr. Mohammad Olayyan, Chairman of the Board of the new Al-Ghad Newspaper and Ms. Tala Nabulsi from the Jordan Youth Forum.

Participating youth discussed their success stories achieved through creative initiatives, and how to activate their role in the economic and political arenas through the media; creating an effective network of youth; engaging different organizations in the field; building and utilizing skills; and effecting change through integrating such skills in educational curricula.

Queen Rania further noted that transparency is key in setting a system of effective two-way communication, adding people must be empowered to make their voices heard. This comes through education, and this is where His Majesty King Abdullah’s interest in education lies.

“Education is a major tool of empowering people. In Jordan, we are taking tremendous strides to ensure the provision of proper quality education to all segments of society,” she added.

Concluding the session, Queen Rania called for the organization of similar interactive dialogue sessions to aid the overall development process within communities and to help decision makers formulate effective policies with input from youth.

The session concluded with recommendations targeted towards helping spread the culture of participation through various means like publicizing success stories, whether it be through university magazines, or casual dialogue to improve a certain situation at a school, university, or workplace. Students suggested the formation of a national media strategy targeted toward youth and suggested regular meetings with decision makers in the public and private sectors to ensure communication and flow of ideas.

Queen Rania took part in a similar session held on the sidelines of the Entrepreneurship Jordan Conference at the Dead Seas where she noted: “Jordan is now at a turning point with a new vision that requires the much needed spirit of initiative, progressiveness and participation of all, especially the youth.”

In his Speech From the Throne opening the 14th Parliament in December 2003, King Abdullah outlined the foundations and mechanisms for comprehensive development, which include involving all in the development process, especially youth.

“The aspired-for change will come about only through stimulating Jordanian youth and listening to their views, for they are the pillars of the future and the substance of change.

Consequently, their role should be enhanced, job opportunities should be made available to them, and their hopes and aspirations should be realized,” the King told Parliamentarians.