Youth in the Arab World - Youth Mobilization in Egypt - New Trends and Opportunities

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Civic participation among youth in Egypt is alarmingly low. According to a recent survey, which confirms the findings of various earlier surveys, only 2% of youth are participating in volunteer work, only 5% participate in youth centers and sports clubs, political parties, unions and associations and housing and school boards, and only 16% of all eligible young voters voted in a previous election (The Population Council, 2010). In spite of these grim statistics, there are some indications that this condition is slowly being reversed and that an increasing number of young people are becoming more actively engaged and mobilized. However, such engagement is not taking place through conventional or formal channels of participation such as student unions, trade unions, political parties, or elections - all of which are subject to a large battery of legal restrictions. Rather youth participation is taking place through new and unconventional channels such as informal social movements and new media. I argue that the recent increase in youth participation can be detected in four principle arenas: the NGO sector, new social movements, independent student initiatives and new media. In the following, I examine youth mobilization in these four arenas, explore the reasons behind the proposed increase in youth mobilization, and conclude with a brief note on youth mobilization in Egypt and the Arab world.


Dina Shehata

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