Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, February 16th, 2019

Afghan Youth Involvement in Political Decision Making: Main Barriers and Drivers

According to the new estimations, nearly half of Afghanistan’s population is under 18, making Afghanistan one of the largest youth bulges in the world. Considering the current situation of Afghanistan and the ongoing conflict in the country, youth can play a constructive role in solving the numerous problems Afghanistan faces because many of these problems have root in the traditional norms and values of the Afghan society. While the Afghan youth either embrace the democratic norms and values or at least can be integrated in this process because they can change their mindset and accept the democratic norms and values easily. However, their participation in the political discourses and decision making processes is very limited. Indeed, this puts into question the Afghan government youth inclusion policies and strategies in the political spheres and processes. Also, youth have been recognized for their creative skills and innovative ideas as well. The youth studies in different countries show that they can be a critical agent of change if they are put at the center of political change policies by the governments.
There are many factors that inhibit the inclusion of the youth in the political decision making processes in Afghanistan including unfavorable legal architectures, low economic conditions and different discriminatory practices. As a result, their involvement in the political process is informal and not yet well recorded that call for taking practical measures by the government.
Given the fact that Afghanistan is young in democracy and its political institutions are not well established, youth are not involved systematically in important decision making processes. Most often than not, the governments and policy makers in Afghanistan have been reluctant to include youth in the formal political systems due to the traditional nature of the Afghan society and legacy of the traditional governance system in the past. Nowadays, however; the involvement of the youth has improved in the political decision making in Afghanistan. Rising consciousness of the government and the external pressures including globalization and democratizations, are some of the important factors that the government puts more emphasis on the youth participation in the political and economic spheres of influences in Afghanistan now.
In Afghanistan, consistently youth are correlated with lack of experience. However, the experience show whenever they are given an opportunity they have proven that they are capable of leading and managing different organization in an effective and efficient manner. At the same time, this critical segment of the population is unemployed and lives in an extremely discrepant way of life. That is why some young peoples of Afghanistan get into violence than harnessing positive and real changes in their country. Also, it has forced the Afghan youth to leave the country and migrate to the western countries. Social scholars point out that this could be a response to their marginalization and social and economic exclusions in Afghanistan.
Recent population reports indicate that the youth accounts for more than half of the Afghanistan’s population. However, regardless of their numerical importance and the historical relevance throughout the region, the Afghan youth have been neglected from political spheres. As a result of lack of political participation of youth in the country, most of the younger population is disorganized, unemployed, and vulnerable to radical ideas such that leading demonstrations against the government and even joining to the radical Islamic groups like the Afghan Taliban, ISIS and HN. However, there have been some improvements in the youth involvement in the decision making in Afghanistan and they have proven that they can perform their political roles in a more effective and efficient way. As a result, the government shall take some dramatic policy decisions to include the youth in the Afghan politics and the way they would be included in the political affairs of their country.