Women and Youth Inclusion in Decision-Making in Jordan Open Access
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Representation is key for democracy, and it is more so when it incorporates true plurality. This entails that all groups of society get equal representation in decision making, particularly women and youth. According to IPU, of the 45,000 parliamentarians around the world, only 1.9% is under the age of 30 and only 4 countries have 10% youth representation. More than 40 countries have none. This is of particular concern given that people of the age group 18-30 vote more than any other group around the world. Looking at the Jordanian context, none of the MPs are under the age of 30. This is the direct result of stipulations in the constitution that members of parliament must be at least 30 years old. A large proportion of young voters are therefore prevented from being able to run for political office. UN Security Council Resolution 2250, which was sponsored by Jordan shows that Jordan has been a strong advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)". Yet, this support of these statements must be accompanied with action. Currently, young women in Jordan are even less engaged in the political process than their peers. In the 2017 elections, women aged 18-24 voted at a rate 5% less than men the same age. Women face many additional obstacles to political participation. Why is youth and women inclusion important? The largest voting age group is that of the young people. The average turnout of voters aged under 25 was 38%, higher than the national average of 36%. In the 2017 local elections, 5.4% of all candidates were aged under 30 years. Based on the global NotTooYoungToRun model, it is proposed to establish a national campaign in Jordan to lower the age of candidacy for elected offices, culminating into policy amendments taking in consideration means to mitigate challenges. In order to explore support for lowering candidacy age in Jordan, I ran an online survey in both English and Arabic and found a higher support rate for lowering age of candidacy for elected offices to 25 than to 23, coupled with a high support rate for further inclusion for women. The research also studied the challenges and found that campaign financing, social stereotypes, and electoral laws were amongst the most prevalent challenges. This entails that there is an interest and need for advancing such a campaign in Jordan and to tackle these challenges.