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‘Freedom, dignity and justice’: A comprehensive approach to the understanding of youth exclusion and the prospects for youth inclusion and overall change in the South and East Mediterranean

Final Report Summary - POWER2YOUTH (‘Freedom, dignity and justice’: A comprehensive approach to the understanding of youth exclusion and the prospects for youth inclusion and overall change in the South and East Mediterranean)

Executive Summary:
POWER2YOUTH is a project funded under the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme to (1) explore the root causes and complex dynamics of youth exclusion and inclusion in the labour market and civic/political life; (2) to investigate the potentially transformative effect of youth agency and (3) to develop progressive and youth-informed policy guidelines for national and supranational policy-makers. Organised around 9 work packages, the project engaged 13 partner institutions from Europe and the SEM region, including 6 case study countries (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Occupied Palestinian Territories and Turkey), where original qualitative and quantitative data was collected from a range of sources (e.g. public statistics, public documents and academic studies, focus groups and interviews with young people and youth-based CSOs, and large-scale nation-wide surveys including a total of 7,573 young people between the ages of 15 and 29).

POWER2YOUTH consortium, led by the Rome-based Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), comprised the following partners:
▪ Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Italy
▪ University of Durham (UDUR), United Kingdom
▪ Institut Francais du Proche Orient (IFPO), Beirut – Institut de Recherche Interdisciplinaire sur les Enjeux Sociaux (IRIS), France
▪ School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, United Kingdom
▪ Birzeit University (BZU), Occupied Palestinian Territories
▪ FAFO Institute for Applied International Studies (Fafo-AIS), Oslo, Norway
▪ Universite de Geneve (UNIGE), Switzerland
▪ Istanbul Bilgi Universitesi (BILGI), Istanbul, Turkey
▪ American University in Cairo (AUC), Egypt
▪ American University of Beirut (AUB), Lebanon
▪ Universite Mohammed V-Souissi (UM5S), Morocco
▪ Observatoire National de la Jeunesse (ONJ), Tunis, Tunisia
▪ Leicester University (ULEIC), United Kingdom

Project Context and Objectives:
The exceptional youth-led wave of anti-authoritarian protests in 2010–2011 in several countries of the South and East Mediterranean (SEM), which came to be known as the ‘Arab Spring’, renewed the world’s attention towards Arab (and not only Arab) youth. In fact, most analyses of the uprisings identify the region’s exceptionally high rates of youth unemployment, and in general the unsustainable economic, political and social exclusion of youth (exacerbated by a dramatic demographic bulge) as the main causes of diffuse discontent and anger.
At the same time, young people have proven to be a potential engine for long-needed change in the region. The rapid and unexpected mass mobilisations of 2010-2011, anticipated by the development over the last two decades of youth-based activist groups and by the spread of new communication technologies favoured by youth, could be described as the ‘bubbling up’ of a phenomenon that has been in the making for some time now: the coming on the scene of a new generation united by the shared experience of the economic, political and social failures of post-independence regimes and by new ways to protest and act.
Important as this composite phenomenon could be for the future of the SEM, it still escapes the main frames of analysis utilised by academic research. Youth studies in the SEM, while producing important findings and insights, have failed so far to give a multi-dimensional and comprehensive understanding of the economic, political and social disadvantages faced by youth in the region and of the possible evolution of young people’s role in national or regional developments. This is mainly because studies of youth, typically employing the neo-classical economic framework of human capital or the socio-demographic framework of life-course research, have focused on one dimension (e.g. the economic or social) and/or level (e.g. the individual) at a time, failing to grasp the complex, multi-dimensional and multi-level dynamics of youth exclusion and to take into account the potentially transformative effect of youth agency.

POWER2YOUTH aimed at exploring the root causes and complex dynamics of youth exclusion and inclusion in the labour market and civil/political life as well as the potentially transformative effect of youth agency. It analysed the status, conditions and perspectives of young people at three levels - the macro (or national state and institutional) level, the meso (organizational) level and the micro (individual) level – providing an interdisciplinary, gender-sensitive analysis of the economic, political and socio-cultural conditions of young people. Based on the major research findings, POWER2YOUTH has also developed youth-informed policy guidelines for national and supranational policy-makers.

In particular, POWER2YOUTH pursued several objectives:
• Objective 1: To advance theory and extend knowledge on the dynamics of youth exclusion and on the factors fostering youth inclusion in the South East Mediterranean (SEM) with a focus on six country case studies (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Lebanon and Turkey).
• Objective 2: To generate a new body of interdisciplinary and multi-level qualitative and quantitative data on youth in the SEM region.
• Objective 3: To include a gender-sensitive approach in all research dimensions of the project.
• Objective 4: To assess the applicability and relevance of other experiences of socio-economic transformation in Europe and elsewhere in the world to address the challenges facing the SEM region in relation to youth.
• Objective 5: To build a regional knowledge base privileging knowledge deriving from local understanding of youth social disadvantage and potentially alleviating factors as opposed to an understanding imposed from outside.
• Objective 6: To integrate youth perspectives into academic research and policy debates.
• Objective 7: To provide policy recommendations for better development opportunities for youth in the region.

In order to pursue the above objectives, POWER2YOUTH was organized around nine Work Packages.

• WP1 ‘Conceptual and methodological framework’ prepared the conceptual and methodological framework that informed the overall research project and research in WP2, WP3 and WP4, which analyzed respectively the institutional/policy (WP2), organisational (WP3) and individual (WP4) factors of youth exclusion and inclusion in the SEM country case studies.
• WP2 ‘Policy Institutional Factors of youth exclusion/inclusion (MACRO-LEVEL ANALYSIS)’ was devoted to provide a youth-aware analysis of public policies and institutional structures in the SEM country case studies in the fields of family, employment, migration and spatial planning.
• Starting from the results of WP2, WP3 ‘Organizational factors of youth exclusion and inclusion (MESO-LEVEL ANALYSIS)’ focused on the role of organized young people (i.e. belonging to political parties, networks, trade unions, charities, social movements and youth initiatives) in advancing social, economic and political change in the SEM country case studies.
• Building on the results of WP2 and WP3, WP4 ‘Individual factors of youth exclusion and inclusion (MICRO-LEVEL ANALYSIS)’ explored the individual and household factors of youth exclusion/inclusion by implementing almost identical national representative perception surveys of young people aged 18-29 in the six country case studies.
• WP5 ‘Global youth’ added a comparative perspective to the project by looking into the experiences of socio-economic transformation in two European countries (Ireland and Greece) and one extra-European country (Brazil), with a view to assessing their relevance to the challenges facing the youth in the SEM region.
• Combining the research outcomes of WP2, WP3 and WP4, WP6 ‘Towards a comprehensive analysis: linking MACRO, MESO e MICRO’ offered a comprehensive conclusion on the dynamics of youth exclusion/inclusion (marginalization) in the SEM region, setting them within the context of a broad analysis of the political economy dynamics of the last three decades.
• WP7 ‘Policy recommendations: from youth exclusion to youth empowerment’ produced a policy report identifying the key policy messages for the EU that arose from the research conducted as part of Work Packages 1–6.
• WP8 ‘Dissemination’ ensured the widest possible dissemination of project activities and research results by several means, including a user-friendly website, a newsletter, publications, public events and youth-friendly dissemination tools.
• WP9 ‘Coordination and Management’ ensured efficient administrative and financial management, scientific coordination and oversight, providing organizational support, and interface with the Commission.

Project Results:
The main scientific results of the project are the following:

i) Elaboration of a comprehensive conceptual and methodological framework to study youth in the SEM region
The overall analytical and methodological framework informing POWER2YOUTH research was elaborated by the IAI team in WP1 in order to ensure coherence of the research in the different WPs and comparability of research results. The leaders of WP2, WP3 and WP4 wrote the respective concept papers providing the theoretical and methodological framework for research at the MACRO, MESO and MICRO levels.

Since the beginning of the project, researchers started to discuss and deconstruct a number of relevant concepts (youth, youth exclusion/inclusion, youth agency and youth empowerment) and mainstream approaches in youth studies:
• The starting point was to consider youth as a differentiated and socially constructed category. In fact, the expressions, ideas and experiences of being young vary across cultural, class, gender, ethnicity and other divides. Young people from different social strata experience important social changes in different ways and have different needs and demands. Moreover, while ‘youth’ is often implicitly used as shorthand for ‘young man’, the experience of being young is profoundly gender differentiated.
• No less important, the meaning and experience of being young is subject to social and historical processes. Individual or group experiences of what it means to be young are influenced by social constructions that are time- and space-specific. The contours of the ‘youth’ category vary enormously and are subject constantly to political and institutional manipulations which have less to do with the real lives of young people and more to do with how regimes and powerful social groups construct a social order. In fact, the project found that prevailing narratives associated with the youth category in the SEM region are constructed by governments to reinforce their legitimacy, control and co-opt youth, and contain dissent. That is why any project on youth should start from acknowledging and critically analysing the growing importance of youth to contemporary global political discourse, how youth are defined and perceived as a result, and the consequences for youth themselves.
• The project adopted a conceptualization of the problems of youth in the SEM region that goes beyond the binary language of youth exclusion/inclusion, accounting for the multiple forms of marginalization of young people across gender, region, class, etc. and linking them to the broader political economy processes of the region. Indeed, the inclusion/exclusion dichotomy is problematic since it assumes that ‘to be included’ is an ideal outcome for young people and the model in which they are expected to be included is a good one, ignoring that many young people in the SEM region live in authoritarian states and profoundly unequal societies. Therefore being ‘included’ in this type of system means being subjected to systemic inequality and accept repressive/coercive regimes. POWER2YOUTH found, then, that the concept of ‘multiple forms of marginalization’ better expressed the status of SEM youth than did ‘social exclusion’.

As far as methodology is concerned, POWER2YOUTH adopted an integrated innovative methodology, merging multiple approaches and sources: a multi-level analysis (macro, micro and meso), gender sensitive and intersectional approach, quantitative and qualitative methods (e.g. nation-wide surveys, interviews and in-depth analysis of policy documents), and a comparative approach (including six-SEM countries, Greece, Ireland and Brazil).

• Multilevel analysis
The overall analytical and methodological framework combined three different levels of analysis: macro (policy/institutional), meso (organizational) and micro (individual). Analytically, the three levels of analysis are not separate but closely interlinked, complementing and enriching our understanding of youth.
The macro level is the level of state policies and institutional structures (e.g. dominant social and cultural norms, constitutional legal system, etc.). This level of analysis investigated the concrete impact of government actions and policies on youth and it also implied an examination of the way in which ‘youth’ and the ‘youth problem’ are defined in public discourses and narratives in four interrelated public action domains: employment, family, migration and spatial planning.
The meso level is the level of organized groups (e.g. political parties, networks, trade unions, charities, social movements, etc.) and of their actions and interactions. In particularly, for each country case study, it investigated: (1) the factors (the structural context) that favour or constrain youth participation in organizations (both formal and informal, including mainstream traditional organizations such as trade unions, political parties, business organizations and various kinds of youth organizations); (2) the different types of youth activism and forms of youth mobilization that are influenced by different social backgrounds; and (3) the transformative role of organized youth.
The micro level of analysis is the level of the individual and his/her immediate entourage (family, household, community). It studied the following: (1) the individual-level factors that act to foster or constrain the participation of young men and women to the labour market and civic/political life; (2) the transformative role of various forms of individual youth agency (including unorganized mass/collective behaviour); and (3) the subjective/individual dimension of youth exclusion, that is how young individuals perceive exclusion.

• Quantitative and qualitative methods, involving young people
In order to reach a broader understanding of processes and dynamics of youth marginalisation as well as prospects for youth-led change in the SEM region, the project combined both qualitative and quantitative analyses and data, involving young people as sources of information for the research and sources of input in the development of youth-sensitive policies.
WP2 (on state policies) carried out an in-depth analysis of several types of sources for each case study (e.g. quantitative and quantitative sources such as statistics, various kinds of public documents, academic studies and interviews with relevant stakeholders and key informants). WP3 combined a background analysis of secondary literature on the political context with focus groups and semi-structured interviews with a selected sample of young activists (30 semi-structured interviews and five focus groups with organized young people aged 18–30 for each case study). WP4 was based on nation-wide surveys on young people conducted in the six countries between October 2015 and August 2016, involving a total of 7,573 young people between the ages of 15 and 29. WP4 also benefitted from qualitative data, that are the in-depth interviews and focus groups carried out by the country based research teams during WP3.
In addition, in-depth qualitative case studies on select relevant issues in WP2, WP3 and WP4 were carried out with a view to deepening our understanding of topics relevant to the project. In particular, WP2 elaborated in-depth qualitative field studies on the following themes: youth and migration policies in EU and Gulf countries; youth policy in Tunisia; and youth and family policies in the six SEM countries. WP3 selected the following themes: the student movement in Egypt; youth activism in Beirut; and youth engagement in NGOs in Tunisia. As for WP4, the in-depth case studies selected were the following: civic engagement of young Syrian refugees in Lebanon; the case of the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM), a transnational organization operating across various Arab and Western countries; and youth political commitment in Tunisia.
To collect input in the development of youth sensitive policies, WP7, which produced the final policy recommendations, organized field visits to three SEM countries (Tunisia, Lebanon and Occupied Palestinian Territories) to obtain feedback on the draft policy report from youth organizations through focus groups.

• A gender sensitive approach in all research dimensions
A gender-sensitive methodology was applied across all the WPs. POWER2YOUTH involved a partner with specific gender expertise (SOAS) providing advice on conceptual and methodological issues in WP1, gender-oriented conclusions in WP2, WP3 and WP4, a comprehensive gender-sensitive understanding of youth exclusion/inclusion in WP6 and final policy recommendations in WP7. Moreover, the research also differentiated youth coming from different social backgrounds (e.g. urban/rural, social class, ethnic/confessional communities, as well as other relevant socio-cultural divides) at all levels of research. The gender-sensitive approach has allowed the project to capture differences in the ways in which young men and young women experience political, economic and social life, and how they might approach adulthood.

• A comparative approach
POWER2YOUTH applied a common analytical and methodological framework to the six SEM country studies, which allowed for inter-country comparisons through all the WPs (WP2, WP3, WP4, WP6 and WP7). WP5 on Global Youth added a comparative perspective to the project by looking into the experiences of socio-economic transformation in two European countries (Greece and Ireland) and one extra-European country (Brazil), with a view to assessing their applicability and relevance to the challenges facing the youth in the SEM region.

ii) Advancement of theory and knowledge on the dynamics of youth exclusion/ marginalisation and youth collective agency.

• Dynamics of exclusion/marginalization
Regarding the dynamics of youth exclusion/marginalisation in the SEM region, the major conclusions emerged from the data produced by POWER2YOUTH are:
- Young people are affected by six forms, or spheres, of marginalization: insecure school-to-work transition; unemployment and precarious living; unsafe environments, corruption and lack of trust in public institutions; political participation; and subjective insecurity.
- Young people experience these marginalizing forces differently, depending on their nationality, class, religion or sect, gender, place of residence or other identifying characteristics. Youth is not a homogeneous category and what improves life for one young person will not necessarily be relevant to another.
- The problems faced by young people in the SEM countries are reminiscent of those faced by young people in the EU; however, they are often faced in more extreme form (e.g. rates of graduate unemployment) and some are quite different (e.g. the extreme levels of political and personal insecurity endured by SEM young people).
- In the SEM region, the social and political forces that impel marginalization disproportionately affect youth, but they are not in and of themselves specifically ‘youth problems’. Rather, young people encounter these forces more consistently and immediately than older age groups due to a relative lack of power.

• Root causes behind youth problems
As far as root causes are concerned, prevailing analyses have so far framed youth problems in the SEM region in terms of exclusion from the labour market (generally presented purely as a matter of unemployment among the educated) and of consequent delayed marriage (as young people face obstacles to family formation posed by unemployment, high costs of marriage and lack of access to affordable housing). Recurrent mainstream explanations for such problems lie in emphasizing supply-side factors, such as the youth bulge and lack of adequate skills to meet market requirements (the so-called education–employment nexus), the latter based on the idea that the education system fails to train youth in the skills required by the marketplace.

In an attempt to reach a deeper understanding of youth problems in the SEM region, POWER2YOUTH examined national public action in four associated policy domains. It revealed that public policy is constructed around narratives of youth which have less to do with youth interests and needs and more to do with government and institutional needs to control or contain young people. Job creation programs have been ineffective in coping with youth unemployment problems as it proposes short term precarious opportunities without addressing structural factors. In relation to spatial planning, a key finding of the policy analyses of POWER2YOUTH is that as far as young people are considered in policy-making within any specific SEM country, the emphasis tends to be on ‘containment’, restricting them spatially to areas where they are invisible, where they can ‘do no harm’ or excluding them from spaces where their presence is not required for business to progress. There is little or no effort made to include young people in decisions about urban or spatial planning, and young people’s interests do not feature in planning priorities.

Contrary to mainstream analyses, the project’s conclusion stressed the importance of looking at the following intertwined factors that have significantly shaped the political economy of the SEM region, with serious implications for the labour market, family structure and role, migration patterns and collective mobilization:
- The adoption of neoliberal reforms, which have dramatically reconfigured state–labour–capital relations in ways that have transformed the landscape of work at both the national and the regional level, the role of family vis-à-vis the state and the market as well as the modes of state intervention and control. Since youth are entering the labour market in larger numbers, they can be considered at the epicentre of the employment crisis generated by neoliberal reforms. As governments abandoned the policy of offering a job to university graduates, unemployment among qualified youth went up, particularly among those with a baccalaureate/university degree. Labour market deregulation, the spread of free trade zones and privatization have been particularly damaging to youth, increasing precariousness and informality. The integration of most SEM countries into the international market, rather than creating good quality job opportunities for educated young people, has been based on low-cost outsourcing of unskilled activities, often tapping into a reserve pool of young female labour. Alongside spreading precariousness, the selective and uneven implementation of neoliberal reforms across space and time has heightened labour fragmentation along the lines of race/ethnicity/age and gender, and has reinforced and reproduced existing inequalities among workers and youth themselves.
- The progressive securitization of migration policies in both the EU and the Gulf (particularly since the early 2000s). By excluding certain nationalities and prioritizing specific groups of migrants (highly skilled workers, researchers and business professionals), securitization of migration policies in the EU and the Gulf also appears to have compounded existing inequalities among SEM youth within countries and across the region. As channels for regular migration narrow, the only option for many youth, especially less educated and from working class, is to emigrate illegally and to accept very low paid and exploitive working conditions in a labour market already highly segmented across gender and ethnic lines. In addition, control of unskilled manpower through the temporariness of stay and the strong constraints imposed on legal mobility not only reflect security concerns but are functional to neoliberal development as they foster a highly flexible labour force kept in irregular and precarious positions.
- The persistence of authoritarian regimes, which have increasingly become more coercive and violent, particularly in the post-uprising period. Authoritarian regimes in the SEM region have been using a variety of strategies to control and supervise youth as well as to contain their dissent, politicization, frustration and deviation from normative behaviour. In Tunisia, under Ben Ali, the strict control of the regime over access to job creation programmes and legal migration channels was instrumental to manage youth discontent. In Morocco, the opening of ‘civil society’ in the 2000s was a tool to penetrate society and control youth politicization. As the case of Lebanon shows, military enrolment in the national army and police forces has also been used by incumbent regimes to pacify anger and extend control over youth. Among other strategies to control internal dissent, regimes have increasingly resorted to criminalizing youth, accusing them of being immoral and threatening security. In Egypt, for example, during and in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising, women protesters have been not only sexually assaulted both in public and in jail, but also constructed as “prostitutes”. In Morocco, due to ambiguities that exist in the legal system, journalists, members of the Justice and Charity Movement and activists from the February 20 movement have been accused of sexual abuse, adultery or molestation. Alongside these strategies of defamation/delegitimation and diffuse surveillance, authoritarian regimes in all six country studies have increasingly made use of violent strategies to repress dissent, from sexual harassment and arbitrary detention to crackdown on opposition groups.
- The exposure of the region to prolonged or alternate periods of war, which is particularly relevant for two POWER2YOUTH case studies, namely the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and Lebanon. The different forms of youth marginalisation highlighted in the project result to be exacerbated in such countries. For example, for young Palestinians, because of the Israeli occupation, the problem of physical safety is particularly acute.

• Youth political and civic participation.
Regarding youth activism, POWER2YOUTH project found that:
- Young people in SEM countries do not trust officials or institutions. Indeed, formal state institutions in SEM countries fail to protect the rule of law and are themselves arbitrary and often violent. Youth therefore experience the arbitrary and unpredictable imposition of law, are excluded from meaningful participation in formal politics, and often experience the denial of their civil and human rights by the agents of the state.
- However, young people in these regimes are not apathetic observers to the structural impediments to their inclusion. On the contrary, young people themselves in these six countries have shown similar patterns of civic and political participation, preferring to engage in informal and alternative modes of activism and participation rather than participation through conventional political institutions such as parties or government-run youth initiatives. Their modes of activism consist in protests, single-issue campaigning, cultural politics, social entrepreneurship and social media activism.
- Unfortunately, their efforts to challenge the constraints on their lives are all too often countered by robust authoritarian security apparatuses that limit their effectiveness. Moreover, by abstaining or being excluded from formal political spaces, young people are usually unable to make substantive changes.

iii) Providing a gender sensitive comprehension of youth related problems in the SEM region. The major findings are the following:

• Women’s experiences of marginalization across SEM countries are qualitatively different to those of men, particularly in relation to issues of insecurity and safety. Despite national commitments to international conventions protecting women and promoting their equality, the reality for young women is that—despite being more likely to achieve a higher level of education than their mothers—they continue to be under-represented in the labour force, to be subordinated to patriarchal norms and practices in both home and the public sphere, to be vulnerable to emotional and physical abuse, to face sexual harassment in employment or public social spaces, to be poor and to lack financial and bodily security.
• Family
Case study countries show an increasingly socially conservative approach to the issue of personal status and family policies. State policies have enabled ever-greater legal restrictions on women, or have endorsed patriarchal social norms, for example by the provision of financial support to women to stay at home and take care of children in Turkey.
• Migration
POWER2YOUTH found that male youth were more likely to feel confident to undertake migration, although young women are increasingly likely to consider it. Indeed, there exists informal gender-specific constraints on migration stemming for example from chastity norms and the gender division of reproductive work. However, as the Moroccan report highlights, while for young women, marriage often entails dropping out of paid employment, for women migrating towards the EU, marital status is a key determinant of their capacity to work. Women strawberry pickers in Spain are employed only if they are married and with dependent children, as this condition is seen as a deterrent preventing their permanent settlement in the country of destination.
• Employment.
The project found that the integration of most SEM countries into the international market, rather than creating good quality job opportunities for educated young people, has been based on low-cost outsourcing of unskilled activities, based on an increasing demand for low-waged, exploitable, precarious and flexible labour, often tapping into a reserve pool of young female labour, particularly from lower class. Another major problem to women in the SEM region is the gender division of labour within households, according to which women are entrusted with ‘reproductive work’, i.e. caring for their household members and undertaking domestic work—tasks which are typically unpaid, un-recognized as ‘work’ and naturalized as ‘women’s’ work. Marriage negatively affects women’s employment also because states in the MENA region do not sufficiently protect working women (e.g. insufficient coverage for maternity leave, lack of flexible work arrangements, etc.).
• Spatial planning
POWER2YOUTH highlights the class-based and/or political and sectarian segmentation of leisure spaces in urban settings, which is often further reflected in gendered patterns of socialization. Constraints on women’s access to and mobility through public spaces include widespread sexual harassment that has been observed in a number of countries. Such constraints can be further exacerbated in the absence of affordable, safe and reliable public transportation, a gap that, in turn, can affect women’s capacity to access education and jobs outside of their hometown or entailing night work.
• Political and civic engagement
POWER2YOUTH found that young women experience gender-specific constraints to political and civic engagement. For example, lack of financial independence and living in poor urban areas might prevent women to join civic and political organisations. Similarly, a young woman might feel family pressure impinging on her participation in political groups and public demonstrations as her family fears of her arrest and sexualised violation by police.

iv) Generating a new body of interdisciplinary and multi-level qualitative and quantitative data on youth in the SEM region.

By combining both quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches, POWER2YOUTH has generated a consistent corpus of information on youth in the SEM region, integrating youth perspectives into academic research and policy debates (through focus-groups and interviews to young people and national youth surveys). POWER2YOUTH:
• Collected original qualitative and quantitative data, including public statistics, public documents and academic studies; focus groups and interviews with relevant stakeholders and key informants (including young people and youth-based CSOs); and large-scale nation-wide surveys (including a total of 7,573 young people between the ages of 15 and 29).
• Generated 42 research reports, 1 policy report and 2 policy briefs. 35 research reports and the policy report were published in the POWER2YOUTH working paper series, whereas the two policy briefs were published both by the European Commission and on the POWER2YOUTH website. The available reports offer open-access to an enormous array of empirical data and analysis on the conditions of youth in the six country case studies considered.
• Set up an on-line database collecting data on youth in the SEM region. The database is made up of three sections reflecting the organization of the research: (a) the MACRO section contains the ‘corpus of data’ (including academic literature, main quantitative data, official documents, legal texts, technical reports, etc.) which were critically analysed during MACRO level research for each country case study. The corpus of data is presented using an existing open-source bibliographic database (ZOTERO). (b) the MESO section, currently not available to the public, includes information on youth-relevant and youth-led organizations (YROs and YLOs) in the six country case studies, the information on the YROs and YLOs selected for empirical research and the relative focus groups minutes; (c) the MICRO level contains information about POWER2YOUTH youth survey, the questionnaire, 6 country and 1 comparative tabulation reports also translated into Arabic. The survey dataset will also be available, but in May 2018

v) Contribution to global research on youth.
• By applying a common analytical and methodological framework to the six SEM country studies, POWER2YOUTH allowed for inter-country comparisons through all the WPs (WP2, WP3, WP4, WP6 and WP7), thus adding important insights to our understanding on how multiple dimensions of youth exclusion/marginalisation and the root causes behind them vary within the region. While highlighting specificities for each country study, POWER2YOUTH found important similarities among the six SEM country case studies in terms of forms of youth marginalization, structural causes and forms of youth activism.
• WP5 on Global Youth added a comparative perspective to the project by looking into the experiences of socio-economic transformation in two European countries (Greece and Ireland) and one extra-European country (Brazil), with a view to assessing their applicability and relevance to the challenges facing the youth in the SEM region. The final comparative report shows that overall youth mobilizations in Greece, Ireland and Brazil, although they occurred in different territories and diverse socio-economic, political and cultural contexts and conjunctures, have many characteristics in common, amongst which:
- Protests were arranged horizontally through social networks and new digital technologies utilizing the Internet (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and the like). They were made up of activists, recruited ad hoc for each case; they expressed deep frustrations and even despair, because it had become impossible to channel discontent through the traditional forms of social/political representation
- Most of the protests, albeit peaceful, were met with the problem of police repression
- There was a set of tenets that united activists coming from different social and age groups, e.g. “another world is possible”, mixed with anti-neoliberal (anti-austerity) (Greece and Ireland) and anti-globalization rhetoric (Brazil).
- Mobilizations were successful in building solidarity based on relations—direct and/or virtual—entailing adherence to a cause and not to the ideology of a group;
- Democracy (in its full sense and exercise) was another great articulating axis of the protests in all three country cases; protestors used the public space as a massive exercise of direct democracy.
• WP5 also provided lessons to be learned for youth in the SEM region:
- Often, youth who have to struggle the hardest develop the strongest connections to social movements, and disadvantaged young people revolt because they face a life sentence of poverty and exclusion.
- Youth movements frequently operate outside formal channels of political participation, and youth-driven uprisings occur when democracies and political institutions fail to be youth-inclusive.
- Public policies that do not work for the benefit of a country’s young generation may trigger mobilizations and discontent. Political parties and policy-makers across the world, who in the past might have disregarded youth forms of engagement in policy design, should now look to develop youth-sensitive policies and thus leverage public policy-making as an effective tool for youth engagement and social change.
- Even though youth mobilizations have been fuelled by discontent and distrust in the way political institutions function, most protestors still do believe in democracy. But they have been envisioning a different notion of democracy, where inclusion, integration and transparency are guaranteed.
- A crucial lesson that comes out of all three country cases is that despite their contribution to spurring mass mobilizations, youth activists need to make a bigger effort to consolidate their achievements and secure a place in the political landscape.

vi) Policy recommendations for better opportunities for youth in the region
Building on research outcomes of WP2 to WP6, WP7 produced the following policy recommendations for better development opportunities for youth in the region.
• There is no policy panacea that will address all the multiple forms of marginalization that affect young people, and policy interventions that specifically and only target youth are unlikely to resolve the underlying political and economic issues that cause these experiences of marginalization. Therefore, the best approach might be to articulate a number of principles for policy interventions which seek to ameliorate some of the difficulties faced by SEM young people. In particularly, it is vital that policy-makers, either nationally or from external partners and organizations, do not reinforce the systems of control that suppress young people’s ability to positively affect their environment. As a result, policy-makers are encouraged to start with the basic principle of do no harm: that is, assess the risk that interventions will actually work against young people’s interests and do not enact policies to address one field of action which have secondary, negative impacts in another.
• Specifically, policy-makers should:
- Not reproduce or reinforce narratives of ‘youth as problem or threat’ or ‘youth as hope of the nation’, or indeed narratives which homogenize youth and segregate them from wider populations.
- Identify the most vulnerable and most marginalized in any given context, as well as the root and case-specific causes of that marginalization.
- Create and support meaningful educational engagements such as vocational, exchange, digital and internship programmes which develop critical thinking functions, not just for the benefit of the labour market but also for their fundamental social value.
- Support and ensure fair and equal access to capacity-building programmes, reaching into rural areas, poorer urban areas, mono-lingual communities, and particularly to young women.
- Policy interventions in other areas (e.g. counter-radicalization or management of informal migration) should not be allowed to reduce meaningful and legitimate opportunities for young people such as travel exchanges and educational opportunities in Europe and elsewhere.
- Cultivate genuinely enabling environments, local and national, in which SEM young people can safely participate in the political life of their country and have an impact on their own future. Policies should be avoided which assume that political stability is necessarily good for young people—all too often supporting current configurations of political stability means supporting the marginalization and disenfranchisement of young people. Policies should avoid endorsing authoritarian means of securing stability or countering radicalization which simultaneously act to exclude and repress all young people.
- Youth-targeted interventions work best when they enable young people to define for themselves how to develop their social capital.
- Policy interventions should recognize the fundamental role played by personal and physical insecurity in inhibiting young people’s engagement, activism and participation in social, economic, cultural and political life. Interventions that provide safe physical or virtual spaces and means of access, in which young people can meet, deliberate, network and exchange knowledge and skills are invaluable.

Potential Impact:
Socio-economic impact and wider societal implications.

POWER2YOUTH is expected to have generated the following impact :

• Advanced the state of art of youth studies by adopting an innovative comprehensive analytical and methodological approach as well as by generating a large body of qualitative and quantitative data on youth in the SEM region. Through its interdisciplinary and multi-level analytical framework that combines both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, POWER2YOUTH led to a better and broader understanding of the complexity of dynamics underlying youth exclusion/inclusion in the SEM countries. In pursuing an in-depth socially differentiated and gender-sensitive analysis, POWER2YOUTH also provided an important contribution to the literature by highlighting how factors and dynamics of youth exclusion in the SEM region operate along gender lines, in marginalised areas, among ethnic/confessional communities and so on. POWER2YOUTH finally made an important contribution to global research on youth by investigating youth commonalities and differences within the SEM region, and between SEM countries and European and extra-European countries.

• Enhanced interdisciplinary cooperation and networking between EU and SEM academic communities in the study of youth. POWER2YOUTH brought together 13 institutional partners from both the EU and SEM research communities, with different expertise and knowledge, including political economists, sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, economists and academics with gender expertise, in the joint effort to pursue a comprehensive integrated analysis of youth exclusion and inclusion in the SEM region. In order to favour interaction, communication and exchanges of ideas, since the start of the project all experts met together in many occasions. The participation of six local partner institutes in the project ensured broad involvement of academics from SEM countries in the research and policy formulation, contributing to building a regional knowledge base and providing policy insights derived from a local understanding of youth social disadvantage. Also cooperation and networking between researchers from European institutions and the SEM academic community was significantly reinforced during the project and is expected to be exploited for future research cooperation.

• Produced innovative and clear policy recommendations that address the youth problems highlighted during research. POWER2YOUTH provided policy recommendations for better development opportunities for youth in the region. The project produced: a policy report prepared in WP7 (arising from the research conducted as part of WP1-6), which delivered key innovative messages and concrete guiding principles to policy-makers; and two policy briefs ‘Towards youth-inclusive policies in the Mediterranean’, prepared in WP8, which were easy-to-read, versatile tools for a wider dissemination of the project results to policy circles. A policy workshop was organized in Rabat in October 2016, whereas the final policy report was presented at the European Parliament in March 2017 and at POWER2YOUTH final conference in Venice in May 2017.
• Involved youth in the research, policy formulation and dissemination activities. Through the involvement of young people in research and policy debates (with focus-groups, interviews, survey), the project has ensured that policy recommendations reflect young peoples’ concerns, respond more effectively to youth challenges in the region, and are more credible in the eyes of young people. In order to further integrate youth perspectives into the project and reinforce networks among youth, POWER2YOUTH also involved youth in dissemination activities (e.g. organisation of online photography exhibitions open to youth, use of youth-friendly social media, etc.).

Dissemination activities
Dissemination was a critical aspect in achieving POWER2YOUTH’s impact. The implementation of POWER2YOUTH’s dissemination strategy was overseen in WP8. The outreach effort was led by IAI, as the Coordinating Institution, but it also relied on the networking and dissemination assets of all partners. Several audiences within EU and SEM countries were targeted: young people, academics, policy-makers, students and civil society representatives.

Dissemination activities involved the following:

i) POWER2YOUTH website.
• The website provided information about POWER2YOUTH’s objectives, partners, events, research activities and contained all material produced in the framework of the project: working papers, the online resource database, workshop and conference agendas, etc. The central column of the homepage was featuring the most recent news ranging from the announcement of a new publication on-line, a future event, or some activities from the partners’ project and related to Power2Youth that were deemed relevant for the general public. It also included more multimedia contents such as short video interviews of project partners.
• The website is organized according to the following sections: “Project” presenting the consortium and main objectives of the project; “Publications” divided into “Conceptual and Methodological framework, the different research levels – macro, meso, micro - a sub-section dedicated to “Global Youth” and finally the Policy report and Briefs and the archives of the “Power2Youth Newsletters”. The “Advisory Board” section includes all AB members’ biographies and photos; “Consortium” the presentation of the partners’ institutions. The “Survey” section presented the Power2Youth youth Survey (with tabulation reports in English and Arabic). Finally, the “Database” section, reserved to the EC and project partners, contains research data at the MESO level not available to the general public.

ii) Social media dissemination activities (POWER2YOUTH Facebook page, twitter account and Youtube channels).
• The management of social networks and in particular Facebook was crucial to reach out Mediterranean Youth and the general public. Concerning the dissemination through social media, a special attention was dedicated to building a network of accounts active in the field of youth studies and youth support in the Mediterranean and beyond. Each Website posting was followed by a social media posting, using tagging to enlarge the readership of the project.
• All public events were also live-tweeted from the official account of the project to engage with the general public. Retweeting and sharing of other Facebook posts were intended to make the P2Youth accounts real source of information on Mediterranean youth.
• The university partners also contributed in making the social networks a dynamic platform by posting all their relevant news around the theme of Youth and the Mediterranean. The online sharing and co-operation with the SAHWA project was particularly fruitful in that respect.
• A special dissemination strategy was designed in the framework of WP7 activities on ‘Policy recommendations’ led by UDUR. A social media campaign was launched 2 months before the final POWER2YOUTH policy event at the European Parliament (21 March 2016): it included the creation of a dedicated account for youth policies and the design of graphics and twitter and Facebook cards to clearly illustrate the policy recommendations and be more attractive for social media platforms.

iii) Newsletter
• POWER2YOUTH newsletter gathered in one disseminating content all the activities of the project. The Newsletter was normally sent before and after public conferences to publicize events, included covers of the Power2Youth publications with links to the publications itself in pdf, links to short videos in the website, book reviews, etc.
• POWER2YOUTH produced 7 newsletters in total (Newsletter No. 1 December 2014, Newsletter No. 2 July 2015, Newsletter No. 3, 30 March 2016; Newsletter No. 4, 15 July 2016; Newsletter No. 5, 6 April 2017; Newsletter No. 6, 26 April 2017; Newsletter No. 7 31 May 2017).
• The newsletters included the project’s title, logo, and a synthesis of its concept and objectives; a link to and an abstract of POWER2YOUTH Working Papers; information about POWER2YOUTH’s past and forthcoming events and activities; short videos or other material related to the project. All Newsletters were fully acknowledging EU funding and featuring the European Union flag according to the EU regulations.
• The Power2Youth Newsletters were sent to around 13 000 persons, among academics, journalists, researchers and policy makers.

iv) Conferences

• POWER2YOUTH Public conferences
- Kick-off conference ‘Understanding youth exclusion and the prospects for youth inclusion in the South and East Mediterranean’ organized in cooperation with La Sapienza University of Rome on 11 April 2014, to give visibility to the themes and approaches of the project as well as to present and discuss with a larger audience the state of youth studies in the South East Mediterranean region. Beyond the speakers (POWER2YOUTH partners and advisory board members), 89 people registered to participate to the conference (students, academics, journalists and practitioners).
- Public round table ‘Youth exclusion and youth-led change in the SEM region’, at AUB in Beirut (27 February 2015) to discuss youth issues in the SEM region with local civil society representatives, journalists, students and academics.
- ‘South and East Mediterranean Youth Policies on a Tightrope’ at the EHESS in Paris (25 November 2015) to present WP2 research results.
- ‘Youth Civic and Political Engagement in the South and East Mediterranean: Continuity and Change since the Arab Uprisings’ at the University of Naples “l’Orientale” (on 4 April 2016) to present the research results of WP3;
- ‘Global Youth: Research and Findings’, at Muhammad V University, Rabat (19 October 2016) to present WP5 research results;
- ‘Youth in Morocco and in the South East of the Mediterranean: Factors of Exclusion and Prospects for inclusion’, at Muhammad V University, Rabat (20 October 2016) to present WP4 research results.
- Final POWER2YOUTH policy-oriented meeting entitled ‘Arab youth struggling with coercion, precariousness and dislocation’ organised together with the EU FP7 project SAHWA at the European Parliament, in Brussels (21 March 2017). The event, hosted by the Parliament’s Youth Intergroup, presented the two major research collaborative projects and their respective final research findings.
- Final POWER2YOUTH academic conference ‘In the Eye of the Storm: South East Mediterranean Youth Struggling with Coercion, Precariousness and Dislocation’, was organised at the University of Venice Ca’ Foscari (4 May 2017) to present and discuss the main results of the project with students, academics and journalists.

• Extra-project panels, conferences and activities.
- Joint panel POWER2YOUTH-SAHWA on ‘A research agenda for Arab youth three years’, WOCMES, Ankara (18-22 August 2014).
- Participation of the project coordinator in SAWHA meeting ‘Researching Arab Mediterranean Youth: Towards a New Social Contract’ (18-20 June 2014), Rabat
- Participation of the project coordinator in the Kick off policy meeting YOUNG-Calls 2014 10-11 June 2015, Brussels
- Participation of the project coordinators in the policy workshop ‘Democracy, Youth and Social Justice: Challenges for Europe and the Middle East’ at the European Commission, Brussels (22 June 2016).
- Participation of WP2 leader to the International Workshop ‘Talking about my Generation: Concepts of Youth and Generation in Research on the MENA region, five years after 2011’ at the Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies (CNMS), Philipps-Universität, Marburg, Germany (30 November-2 December 2016) presenting the research conclusion of their WP;
- Participation of project coordinators in the ‘International conference ‘Gender and Generation in the Aftermath of the Uprisings’ at SOAS, University of London (9-10 December 2016).
- Participation of WP7 leader, Prof. Emma Murphy, to present WP7 findings to a workshop at the London School of Economics on ‘Youth Unemployment in Africa’ (15 May 2017).

v) Academic or other publications.
• Almost all POWER2YOUTH research reports were published in the POWER2YOUTH working paper series.
• Two policy briefs were published on POWER2YOUTH website and by the European Commission on
• Coordinators and partners are currently preparing other academic publications (special issues in academic journals, single articles, one monography) planned for 2018-2019.
• In addition to the working papers, the following publications were made to disseminate awareness about the project results:
- Maria Cristina Paciello and Daniela Pioppi, From Terrorists to Heroes and Back: Youth in South East Mediterranean Countries, The Progressive Post, 5 October 2016,
- Maria Cristina Paciello and Daniela Pioppi, Youth Precarity in the MENA (Special issue including articles by M. Catusse-B. Destremau, L. Herrera, J. Pendersen-A. Tiltnes, F. De Bel Air, M. Harb, N. Sika, M. Mexi), The Middle East in London, vol. 13, N° 3, April-May 2017,
- Mona Christophersen, Are Young Palestinian Disengaged, or Merely Dissatisfied?, IPI Global Observatory, 18 August 2016,

vi) On-line youth database.
• The database collects data on youth in the SEM region. In its final version, the database is made up of three sections: i) the MACRO level section drawing on research in WP2, providing the bibliographic resources (including academic literature, relevant quantitative data, official documents, legal texts, technical reports, etc.) collected by the POWER2YOUTH partners during their research work in WP2 ‘Policy/Institutional Factors of Youth Exclusion and Inclusion (MACRO-LEVEL ANALYSIS)’; ii) the MESO level section that contains for each country case study (1) a background narrative report on youth-led and youth-relevant organizations; (2) an excel file containing the list of the YLOs and YROs selected for empirical research and (3) the minutes of the focus groups organized by each country research team; and iii) the MICRO level section comprising a brief description of the survey methodology, 6 country tabulation reports and 1 comparative report. All tabulation reports (with the exception of the one on Turkey) are translated into Arabic.
• While the MACRO (ZOTERO LIBRARY) and the MICRO (Survey section) are available to the general public on the POWER2YOUTH website, access to the MESO section of the database has been restricted to the POWER2YOUTH’s consortium and the European Commission. Also, according to a POWER2YOUTH’s Consortium decision, the survey dataset files are not published on the website (not even in the reserved part). The survey dataset will become available upon request to Fafo, WP4 leader institution, only in June 2018.

vii) Touring Photographic exhibition
• WP8 organized a photo competition for young photographers in the SEM countries. The photo competition was announced on the project website and followed by a Facebook campaign to target young people from the Mediterranean. A co-operation was created with a EU funded photography project “Frame” and the pictures coming from Tunisia and Lebanon were selected from the “Frame photography marathon”. This immensely helped to reach out young photographers far from the Academic milieu.
• Selected photos from Tunisia, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey made up exhibitions that accompanied all POWER2YOUTH main public events: at the EHESS in Paris on 25 November 2015 (MS12) and at the University of Naples “l’Orientale” on the 4 April 2016 special photo projections were organized. Whereas at Mohammed V University in Rabat, the 20 October 2016, photos were printed and displayed at the University conference hall.
• A final photo exhibition was organized at the University of Venice ‘Ca’ Foscari’ for POWER2YOUTH final conference the 4 May 2017. This time the exhibition focused on POWER2YOUTH photo competition winner, Mr. Ibrahim Ezzat Hindy, who presented his work on Egyptian youth to the public. The photos collected throughout the project are available upon request for exhibitions in other locations (universities, cultural spaces, etc.).

List of Websites:
All details about POWER2YOUTH’s activities and the full set of publications are available on the project’s website The website provides information about POWER2YOUTH’s objectives, partners, research team and activities, and contains all material produced in the framework of the project.