From developing to developed countries, youth are dissatisfied, disaffected, and largely shut out from the institutions, organizations, and bodies that control and determine their lives and opportunities. In the Middle East and North Africa, the “youth bulge” has arrived. More than 30% of the region’s population is between the ages of 15 and 29, representing over 100 million people. According to the Brookings Institute, this is the largest number of youth in the region’s history. YouthPolicy.org describes young people between 15 to 24 as forming approximately 20% of Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan, Algeria, and Saudi Arabia. According to the organization, “young people are the fastest growing segment, some 60% of the population is under 25 years old, making this one of the most youthful regions in the world, with a median age of 22 years compared to a global average of 28.”
In the Middle East and North Africa, young people are disproportionately affected by unemployment. In Jordan in 2007, three-quarters of the unemployed were below the age of thirty. In Egypt in 2006, over 80 percent of the unemployed were below age 30.
These trends are remarkably consistent across the world, and governments everywhere are worried. As Guardian editor, Eliza Anyangwe, describes it:
Whether it’s about crime or immigration, education or identity it seems that people in suits the world over are increasingly preoccupied by youth. And they have good reason to be.
On Friday, October 24, the Guardian Global Development Professionals and the Guardian Public Leaders network are holding a twenty-four hour, global tweet-a-thon to engage youth across the world on a topic that intimately affects their lives: “How do we better engage young people socially, economically and politically?” The tweet-a-thon will involve twenty-four countries, including Egypt, Morocco, Palestine, Afghanistan, Turkey, Ukraine, and Russia. The times and full list of participating countries is below.