Youth at the Centre of Government Action

A Review of the Middle East and North Africa

image of Youth at the Centre of Government Action

Young people have demonstrated resilience to shocks and led positive change in their communities across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Young people (aged under 30) constitute more than half (55%) of the population across MENA, compared with 36% of the population across OECD countries. While challenges vary significantly across the region, youth unemployment rates are among the highest in the world, young people tend to express low trust in public institutions, and nearly four in ten live in fragile and conflicted-affected areas. The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the need to place the needs of young people at the centre of an inclusive and resilient recovery. To support this process, this report analyses current governance arrangements and practices across 10  MENA governments in three areas: 1) uniting all government stakeholders to implement a shared, integrated youth policy and deliver services to young people; 2) building administrative and institutional capacities to mainstream the perspectives of young people in policy making; and 3) encouraging the participation and representation of young people and youth stakeholders in public and political life.


Executive Summary

The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare the structural challenges young people across the MENA region face in their transition to an autonomous life. Youth employment declined by 7.5% in 2020, access to education was disrupted for 110 million pupils and students, and – as in other regions – spaces for young people to form social connections and skills were no longer accessible due to lockdown and confinement measures. In a context of already low levels of trust in government among young people, the implications of the crisis may undermine not only young people’s future aspirations and opportunities, but also societal and economic progress across the region more broadly.


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