Rabat – Now, more than ever, young people are making their presence known. From sports to science, talented and innovative youth are emerging at the forefront of public spheres.
Take Greta Thunberg, for example, the 16-year-old environmental activist from Sweden whose no-nonsense attitude towards climate change has earned her global recognition. Or consider the youth activists of the developing world, including young Moroccans, whose passion for the environment long preceded Greta’s scathing “How dare you?” speech of September 2019.
Young people are not only making waves in activism—they are creating, competing, engineering, and healing.
Outstanding Moroccan youth, especially, have made headlines in recent years.
15-year-old Moroccan student Fatima Zahra Al Akhyar is prepared to win the 2019 Arab Reading Challenge in the UAE later this month. Fellow Moroccan Mariam Amjoun won the competition last year despite being the youngest participant at just nine years old.
A delegation of young Moroccans represented the Kingdom at the Shell Eco-Marathon, an energy efficiency competition, in July 2019.
Moroccan amateur singer Hamza Labeid won best performance on The Voice Kids when he was only eleven years old.
Fatima Ezzahrae Benoughazi, a 22-year-old Moroccan woman, received the Common Ground Award for her contribution in mobilizing youth against extremism in 2017.
Walid Ijassi of Rabat, Morocco won a global entrepreneurship competition in 2016 when he was 19 years old.
The list goes on and on. Young Moroccans are routinely recognized for their athletic feats, artistic talents, ingenious engineering, entrepreneurship, humanitarian missions, and groundbreaking ideas.
But how can this creativity and innovation make a tangible impact in Morocco, where young people are generally excluded from the national dialogue on policymaking, despite being one of the most valuable social categories?
MML: Building bridges between youth and decision-makers
Moroccan Millennium Leaders (MML) is driven by a simple question: “How can youth be decision-makers in Morocco?”
MML is a non-profit association composed of young Moroccans who share the principles and values of commitment, citizenship, integrity, mobilization, and respect.
“Morocco’s development prospects and the success of political and socio-economic changes depend, among other things, on the socialization conditions of young people,” MML believes.
MML’s goal is to enable young Moroccans to participate in the implementation and strengthening of national public policies, as well as Moroccan ambitions in Africa and in the world.
“In ten years, we will be the leaders,” Maroune El Idrissi, president of MML, told Morocco World News.
“We would like to see more Moroccan youth more engaged in decision making in this country.”
In pursuit of this aim, MML works to reduce the gap between decision-makers and youth by bringing Morocco’s decision-makers out of their offices. At conferences, workshops, roundtables, and other “bridge-building” events, Morocco’s decision-makers can openly engage with and listen to the ideas and aspirations of Morocco’s youth.
Despite the association’s name and stated goals, MML does not exclusively cater to youth; rather, “we are trying to talk about the solidarity between generations,” El Idrissi said.
“Youth are not the only people who can solve the problems in Morocco,” he continued. “We need the collective intelligence from all generations to find solutions to the challenges that we are facing.”
Moreover, “we are trying to prepare a new generation of leaders in Morocco to be engaged with future challenges,” such as water scarcity, food insecurity, climate change, unemployment, and poverty.
“We must find innovative solutions,” he declared. “We don’t have another option.”
Women in MML
Women’s empowerment in Morocco is best attained through engagement with public life and politics, MML believes. While working to empower youth, MML also gives Moroccan women space to raise their voices—but this is far easier said than done.
“We have a lot of work to do in Morocco,” El Idrissi admitted. “Our society is still conservative, regardless of top-down reforms. We can only resolve that through education.”
Rural women, in particular, must not be excluded from the conversation of women’s rights in Morocco. El Idrissi noted that reforms such as the quota for female Members of Parliament is not enough, as such reforms do not impact women on the social and geographical peripheries.
“We need to change the view of women,” he argued. “Women are at the center of the household, but in public life, they are on the margins.”
Confidence is key
Similarly, a quota for youth in Parliament is not enough: Change needs to come from the average citizen.
“We can have the best laws in the world, but if youth don’t have the motivation to change their situation and empower the community, the laws won’t fix anything,” El Idrissi said.
The big mission, then, is to bring positivity to youth. This, in turn, will make young Moroccans more confident and involved with public life and more empowered to take on leadership initiatives.
“We have the potential to be leaders and to empower youth, to empower our communities,” El Idrissi said.
“We see that Moroccans are talented and resilient,” he continued. “The youth are the solution, not the problem in Morocco.”
The key to youth empowerment? Confidence, according to MML.
MML ultimately aims to give youth confidence in their own ability to take leadership. The future is in the hands of young people who have the skills and ability to be the change that the world needs.
Through engagement, outreach, and education, MML is working to empower young Moroccans to become agents of countrywide change. While this initiative begins within individuals and their communities, MML is providing Moroccan youth with the tools to take charge and enact change as future leaders of their country.