12th August 2018 ACHRS hosted 13 students from different universities of Jordan to celebrate the international youth day and to debate on the theme the UN selected for the year 2018.
International Youth Day was designated by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1999 as a day to celebrate young people around the world and highlight the importance of the role of young women and men in society.
Every year the UN chooses a different theme to reflect on and to discuss about, this year’s theme was “Safe Spaces for Youth”. A safe space is a place in which a person feels harmless and according to the UN there are different types of safe spaces such as civic spaces, that enables youth to engage in governance issues; public spaces can afford youth the opportunity to participate in sports and other leisure activities in the community; digital spaces help youth interact virtually across borders with everyone; and well-planned physical spaces can help accommodate the needs of diverse youth especially those vulnerable to marginalized or violence.
The center took the initiative to create an event and gather around university students from different faculties of both gender and create a debate around this year’s theme, particularly about safe spaces in Jordan.
The debate started with a general brainstorming on what was their idea of safe space and after that about existing and non-existing safe spaces in Jordan according to their point of views.
They mentioned a few locations where they declared they usually feel safe and free to express themselves, these places were all related to their personal interests and passions such as art galleries, book clubs, sports clubs, university, or centers in which Jordanians and expats meet together to discuss about different topics.
However, they highlighted the lack of clubs and centers inside their universities that could allow them to speak freely especially when it comes to politics. According to the students some of these clubs are realized but then they either are not very active or shut down and do not last long because they are restricted to express their opinions.
Moreover, they pointed out that NGOs are for sure useful for universities and they provide safe spaces to support the society, but they should follow more Jordanian programs and these programs should be implemented by Jordanians in order to be accepted.
Additionally, they stressed the existence of language exchange programs, but unfortunately they could be very expensive and not everyone could afford it especially when you are a student and do not have an income.
A space they all agreed that was not safe at all is the digital one in particular social media and the contents of the posts. Since the law is also not very clear to which extent a person is free to express himself or herself, it’s considered dangerous and a risk to speak out against any public authority or whatever comes up in their mind about any kind of issue because there could be a very high chance of getting arrested.
We were pleased to invite these students and create a safe space for them to discuss and debate not only on the specific theme but on the matters they usually don’t always have the opportunity to debate about. We were also happy to see a high number of girls and young women as participants to this event. We would like to thank them again for coming and not being shy or scared to discuss about any type of topic and we wish to create other similar events in the near future.