Jordan is a young country: 70 percent of its population is under the age of 30. In a country with scarce natural resources, people – especially young people, who are the largest segment of society – are its greatest asset. But opportunities for young people in the kingdom are scarce, and they face a high unemployment rate, which, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), reached 30 percent in their age group (2004).
Today, young Jordanians also play a more important political role. Weekly demonstrations calling for reforms and stricter measures to fight corruption are dominated by new youth movements, such as the Jayeen (We Are Coming) organization, which includes young people from various backgrounds that have taken to the streets demanding reform. March 24 is a youth group that calls for reforms and democracy while safeguarding national unity; it has organized many sit-ins and demonstrations.
Many national and international organizations are working on programs to improve the status of young people and provide them a better future. Save the Children, which has been operating in the kingdom since 1985, has worked with Jordanians in several youth programs focusing on civic action. Save the Children helped establish many programs, including Injaz (Achievement), which has reached more than fifty thousand students between the ages of 21 and 24 each year since its founding in 1999, with the aim of familiarizing them with the job market and building their skills before they begin looking for jobs. The Najah (Success) Program provides Jordanian youth between the ages of 18 and 24 with career counselling and support to help them stay employed, and it aims to increase parental support for youth employment and entrepreneurship.
The UNDP in 2010 assisted Jordan’s Higher Council for Youth in formulating the second phase of a five-year national strategy (2011-2015) that will train young people in the twelve governorates in leadership skills; help raise their awareness about civil rights and citizenship; encourage them to take part in decision-making, political parties, and local development; and help with the formation of youth councils.
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