The Revolutionary Promise: Youth Perceptions in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia

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This study explores the gap between the expectations and aspirations of young people in light of revolutionary promises made in 2011-12 on the one hand, and their actual experiences on the other. It analyses youth perceptions towards sociopolitical changes happening in their environment over a period of eight months (May-December 2012) in three key countries of the Arab transition: Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. In addition to making a contribution to existing literature on Arab youth and to its vocabulary, this study seeks to provide key stakeholders with up-to-date information on the extent to which youth aspirations are being met and on how development activities can better meet the needs of young people at such a turning point in the history of the region. The population of interest was defined as active youth between the ages of 18 and 35 years of age. Per country, a panel study was conducted, as well as a series of five to eight in-depth focus-group discussions with young people and a parallel series of ten short semi-structured interviews over the study period. The study demonstrated that discussing youth issues does not necessarily translate into improving their lives and that there is a need for informed action grounded in an understanding of how young people perceive challenges around them. This study seeks to make a contribution to identifying and better understanding youth expectations and challenges beyond existing literature. A number of themes were addressed in three countries of the Arab Awakening; similarities across all three have been noted, coupled with recognition of the specificity and complexity of each country’s context.

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