Youth participation in politics is a priority topic and first attention of the Initiative Youth Forum (Moroccan Non-Governmental organisation). The group set up a project entitled ‘Empowered Youth Leaders’ (EYL), which engaged a total of 114 direct beneficiaries under the age of 35, benefitting from a range of different activities, including on how to vote and how to run for elections. This initiative initiated a debate on the issues of youths and political participation in light of new election legislation. In addition, it provided the young people with opportunities to discuss the performance of the previous Moroccan government (2016 – 2021) and raise awareness of existing political engagements undertaken by youth leaders. The participants prepared introductory videos designed to encourage young people to take part in political activities and increase the voter turnout in Moroccan elections.
A collection of financial, social, behavioural and political factors facilitated the implementation of Empowered Youth Leaders’ project:
The project benefited from financial support from the International Republican Institute (IRI) and permissions from local councils to use and exploit different resources (including boardrooms and transportation…).
Numerous volunteers from a range of cities participated in the initiative.
A participatory approach during project preparation and appointing a qualified team in monitoring and evaluation.
The majority of Moroccan political parties engaged in the initiative and participated by appointing their youth representatives to take part in the activities.
Young people’s relationship with political participation is complex; in many countries, such as Morocco, they are often marginalised from mainstream politics. Only a limited number of people under the age of 35 are found in political positions, and rarely are they in governance roles or part of the decision-making processes.
One potential solution to this problem is to support Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in implementing projects that target involving young people in political fields. For this reason, the IRI implemented a project in Morocco entitled ‘Time Consortium’, which aims to financially support NGOs. As a result, the IRI team issued a call for proposals to translate that support into productive community initiatives.
The EYL project is one of the initiatives that benefited from IRI’s support, which aims to build youth capacity in the field of civic and political participation. It is made up of three elements – engaging youths in electoral campaigning, voting and decision-making. This project, organised by the Moroccan NGO Initiative Youth Forum, aims to empower youth capacities in political fields. It is managed by Mr Rachid Ait Eguerd, Initiative Youth Forum President and the person behind the project concept.
The partners of the EYL project have supported youth engagement by implementing a range of activities. These started with an interactive seminar entitled ‘Youth and Political Action in Morocco’ along with interactive workshops entitled ‘Leadership and Advocacy tools in the Context of Participatory Democracy’. There was also a debating tournament on the topic of youth political participation, targeting the recent changes to electoral law.
These activities highlighted the importance of youth as a key factor in introducing participatory democracy. It drew attention to the need to involve youth when considering current challenges and possible prospects, in order to enhance their participation in political practices and public policies as well as the designing of legislation.
The Initiative Youth Forum is made up of young people under the age of 35, who manage and organise activities for the benefit of young people. Overall, the forum aims to mentor young people and involve them in leadership and decision-making, in addition to spreading the culture of human rights and its values.
A study by its team on the level of youth presence at decision-making levels confirmed the low level of their involvement. Young people needed to benefit from activities that would integrate them into political space.
For this reason, the forum held several meetings with representatives of the IRI and members of local councils in Morocco. The outcome of this was the support for the ‘Empowered Youth Leaders’ project. This last item benefitted from the IRI’s financial support and monitoring the activities, in addition to the local councils’ support in allowing the use of various resources, such as boardrooms and transportation.
As a result of this, the project gave the youth representatives of political parties and social actors in the Souss-Massa region an opportunity to advocate on their own issues. The participants benefitted from both theoretical and practical knowledge relating to the tools of activating political engagements. These included identifying the nature of leadership and participatory democracy, revealing the latest developments in the regulatory laws for the elections and encouraging young people to vote and make decisions.