After three days of addressing key issues such as current geopolitical challenges, global security, migration or the human rights situation, the first International Forum of Young Socialist and Social Democratic Parliamentarians has come to an end.
In the city of Marrakech, the young socialist and social democratic political leaders have signed a final declaration in which they commit themselves to face today's challenges in order to build a "brighter" future. The Marrakech Declaration underlines the importance of the social state in ensuring social justice and reducing inequalities. It also stresses the "climate urgency", gender equality and the fight against extremism and the instrumentalisation of children and adolescents. The Young Socialists also showed their support for the Palestinian people, urging the international community to ensure their protection.
El Hassan Lachguar, a member of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) and the Socialist Group - Itihadi Opposition was appointed as coordinator of the MENA-Latin network, the association in charge of organising the event in collaboration with the Moroccan Socialist Group.
In addition to the reading of the Marrakech Declaration, the last day of the forum focused on gender equality and inclusive youth policies.
Hanan Rinhab, Secretary General of the Ittihady Women's Organisation; Joana Lima, Member of Parliament from Portugal; Saida Medcheloutan, Member of Parliament from Niger; Nisreen Amr, Libyan researcher; Ivannia Rivera, Member of Parliament from the Dominican Republic; and Bertha Beatriz Acarapi, Member of Parliament from Bolivia, took part in the analysis of the first issue.
The prominent speakers were moderated by Omaima Achour, a Moroccan university professor and specialist in women's issues. Before giving way to the participants, Achour stressed that it will be "impossible" to achieve the sustainable development goals of the 2030 Agenda without equality policies.
"Women are not rivals, we are partners"
To analyse Morocco's policies aimed at improving the situation of women and achieving equality, there was the testimony of Hanan Rinhab, who pointed out that the positive developments have been possible thanks to the support of King Mohammed VI. "Morocco experienced great progress after the end of colonialism, as the French elites had conservative coalitions as allies while the monarchy demanded women's rights," she explained.
Rinhab also said that "development cannot be achieved without equality", recalling that the most advanced countries - giving the Scandinavian nations as an example - are also where there is a higher level of equality.
In recent years there have been important advances in equality, although these achievements have not been equally developed in all parts of the world, especially in war-torn regions. "Women are the first victims of all conflicts, but also of all natural disasters and forced displacements," said Rinhad.
After the Moroccan, it was the turn of Joana Lima, who recalled that the political representation of women is still below the goals of the 2030 Agenda. For this reason, she called for a fight to achieve this equality, as well as against gender violence.
From Portugal we travelled to Niger, where women are particularly affected by poverty, terrorism, lack of access to resources and climate change. "Women and young people are the main victims, that is why it is necessary to adopt inclusive policies," said Medcheloutan. The Socialist MEP also highlighted the importance of young people and their education. "If our young people are educated, they will be a key pillar of national development; abandoning them will be a major risk," she explained.
Another African country where women have suffered deeply from the consequences of war in recent years is Libya. "Women's participation in the labour force does not exceed 17%, which hampers the development of our people. Likewise, Libyan women hold only 16% of the seats," revealed Nisreen Amr. The Libyan researcher has called for reforms and changes, such as improving education, creating a quota system and amending the penal code to combat gender-based violence. "When there is gender equality, public policies achieve good results. Women's participation in the market can increase GDP by 17%," she insisted.
Latin America is another region in the world where women are speaking out to end machista policies. In the Dominican Republic, for example, women's political participation has increased from 30% to 40% thanks to quotas. "It is the only way to guarantee spaces until mentalities change," argued Ivannia Rivera. "The feminine vision must be everywhere. Women are not rivals, we are partners," said the Dominican politician.
Another nation on the continent that has made progress in this area is Bolivia. Thanks to the 2005 Constitution, the Andean nation has achieved 50% women's political participation. "When women enter parliaments, we have a great opportunity to propose social public policies," said Bertha Beatriz Acarapi.
"The future and the present is in the hands of young people"
After analysing the situation of women in various regions of the world, the relevance and fundamental role of young people in the political sphere was highlighted. As Asmaa Filhi, a Moroccan expert in the field of youth empowerment, declared that "there is no adequate level of development if the participation of young people in political life is not taken into account".
In the Kingdom, the role of young people in politics is key. According to Fadi Wakili Asraoui, secretary general of the Jeunesse Fédérale, socialist youth have managed to enshrine a free education system for all Moroccans, encouraging them also to participate in politics.
The session also addressed the situation and challenges facing young politicians in places such as Peru, Côte d'Ivoire, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Palestine. "Political instability is due to the lack of participation of young people," said Diego Bazán Calderón, a Peruvian member of parliament. "The future and the present are in the hands of young people," said Mario Alberto González Martín, a member of the Honduran parliament.
With this round table discussion, the first International Forum of Young Socialist and Social Democratic Parliamentarians came to an end with the desire to maintain coordination and cooperation. "This type of meeting allows us to get to know each other closely, to get to know the regions and their problems," stressed Mohamed Jenhani, executive coordinator of the MENA-Latin American Network. Jenhani praised the direct relations between African and Latin American nations, avoiding the mediation of third countries.
Abderrahim Chahid, President of the Moroccan Socialist Group, brought the event to a close, making a positive assessment of the conference. "The distances have been reduced, the major objectives have been brought closer," he said. Chahid stressed the importance of building bridges on issues that concern us all, such as peace, security, equality, the fight against poverty, migration and human rights. "The strength will come from young people, we will build another future for our countries and for our humanity," he concluded.
Below is the final declaration of the first edition of the International Forum of Young Socialist and Social Democrat Parliamentarians:
We, young socialist and social democratic political leaders, gathered at the International Forum of Young Parliamentarians, share a common vision for a better, fairer, and more sustainable world. We are aware of the challenges that lie ahead, and we are determined to act for a more promising future.
We uphold the importance of the welfare state in ensuring social justice and reducing inequalities. We call for equitable and inclusive public policies that provide opportunities for all, protect the most vulnerable, and ensure a robust social safety net. We reject policies that exacerbate wealth gaps and commit to promoting a more equitable distribution of resources.
We recognize the climate emergency and the crucial importance of environmental sustainability. It is our responsibility to implement proactive and disruptive policies to preserve our planet and secure a viable future for generations to come. We urge world leaders to take serious actions, transcend short-term interests, and fully engage in the transition to a green and sustainable economy.
We firmly believe in human rights and individual freedoms as the inalienable foundations of any just and equitable society. We advocate for equal opportunities, access to education, health, and justice for all, without discrimination. We reject any form of discrimination and social injustice and commit to actively promoting inclusion and diversity.
We, the young socialists and social democrats, are deeply alarmed by the Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, which have increased with the advent of the extreme right-wing government which practices violence and racial discrimination. We call on the international community to ensure the protection of the Palestinian people and to prosecute those responsible. We declare our full support for the internationally agreed two-state solution and call for the realization of Palestinian rights as stipulated in international covenants and norms, beginning with the independence of the State of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital. We declare our support for the declaration of the "Support Palestinian discourse / for Palestine" campaign, and we call on our parties and parliaments to pledge their support for this campaign.
Given the multiple ongoing conflicts around the world, we emphasize the importance of respecting the sovereignty of states and the integrity of their territories while fostering international cooperation and dialogue to resolve disputes and promote lasting peace.
We consider gender equality as a moral imperative and a prerequisite for true progress. We encourage the participation and empowerment of women in all areas of society, including politics, economy, and decision-making. We strongly oppose violence against women and commit to promoting gender equality at all levels.
We firmly condemn the culture of hatred, extremism, and religious fanatics that threaten peace and social cohesion. We are determined to promote tolerance, mutual respect, and intercultural dialogue. We encourage international cooperation to combat terrorism, radicalization, and the spread of extremist ideology.
We strongly condemn the instrumentalization of children and adolescents in wars and armed conflicts. These young individuals are the most vulnerable victims of these violent situations, yet instead of protecting them, certain armed groups force them to fight or use them as human shields. This constitutes a blatant violation of children's rights and a crime against humanity.
We are aware of the limitations and challenges faced by international organizations responsible for maintaining global peace, such as the United Nations. We call for the renovation and revitalization of these organizations to strengthen their effectiveness and capacity to address current challenges.
In conclusion, we are aware of the challenges that lie ahead. We are ready to assume our responsibilities and act in concert to build a better world. We declare the establishment of our network of young socialist and social democratic parliamentarians here in Marrakech, advocating for fair, sustainable, and inclusive public policies, and designate to appoint the Socialist Group – Ittihadya Opposition to the House of Representatives of Morocco in the person of our comrade, El Hassan Lachguar, as coordinator of our network.
Marrakech, May 31st, 2023.