Session 11

Children and Youth Social Policy

In this session 4 papers were presented which are, respectively, (1) “Child-Sensitive Non-Contributory Social Protection in the MENA Region”, Charlotte Bilo and Anna Carolina Maciel da Silva; (2) “Millennials Of Tehran: Social Policies, Identities, Perspectives”, Rassa Ghaffari; (3) “Youth Cultures in the Middle East: Responses to Violence and Islamophobia from the Transnational Public Sphere”, Moises Garduno: (4) “Child Security Policy in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan against the Background of the International Legal Commitments of the State”, Klaudia Cenda-Miedzińska.

In the first presentation, presenters said that social protection systems can play an important role in reducing both monetary and multi-dimensional child poverty. Their aim was to assess the child-sensitivity of non-contributory social protection programs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and to provide a preliminary estimation of the share of children covered by them. Three types of programs were discussed in more detail in their article, namely cash transfer, in-kind transfer and school feeding programs. Most programs, identified as having child-sensitive design features, target children and/or support children’s access to education, such as school feeding programs and education-related cash transfer programs. Programs supporting children’s access to health care or nutrition are less common. Except for school feeding programs, few programs were found to directly address malnutrition. Especially pre-school-age children are rarely covered by nutrition-related programs. Estimations based on the comparison between the child coverage figures and the number of poor children in the country show that programs are often not large enough to reach all vulnerable children.

The second article was about Iranian ‘Millennial Generation’ – women and men who have reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st Century born after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, with a specific focus on Tehran. In Iran, Rassa Ghaffari said that similar to other countries in the MENA region, youth is the most important age group both quantitatively and qualitatively. An overview of recent data and statistics clearly underlines the most significant changes the Iranian society is facing today – the rising celibacy rate, the increasing marriage age for both sexes, the rising divorce rate and the uncontrolled youth unemployment are phenomena defined by many as ‘social problems’.

In the third article, Moises Garduno studied new forms of politics and counter politics in some countries of the so-called Global South, particularly Iran, and some Arab countries. The author defends the idea that in order to fight against various forms of violence such as unemployment, Islamophobia and the economic crisis, it is necessary to understand the new forms of organization of citizens not as a new and unique form of social protest but as a combination of new and old ways of access to social justice.

Klaudia Cenda-Miedzińska in the fourth article said that Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan obligates the Government to observe the UN Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and inter-state agreements, as well as international treaties to which Afghanistan is a party. In Afghanistan, family is the fundamental pillar of the society. The family has to be protected by the State, and thus the child, as a member of the family, should be protected.