UNICEF aims at enhancing the ability of female and male adolescents and youth to play a greater role in their society and at widening their opportunities for civic engagement.
Egypt’s young population is rapidly growing. The adolescents (aged 10-19) are around 17 million, representing approximately 19 percent of the total population. Together with youth in the age group 20-24 years, an additional 9 million, adolescents and youth represent almost one third of the Egyptian population.
Even though the needs and aspirations of adolescents and youth have been highlighted by stakeholders and despite the Government of Egypt’s efforts, they are not yet being met. Young Egyptians face huge challenges particularly in the transition into adulthood; the labour market being one of the most critical. Around 50 percent of all the unemployed in Egypt are aged 15-24, with an additional 16.5 percent in the age group 25-29 years.
A multi-sectoral approach, with evidence-based policies and programmes, is needed to address young people’s challenges along with an enhanced coordination of all key players including governmental bodies, NGOs and the private sector. In addition, sustained efforts and investments are needed to provide young people with better access to information and resources, to empower them with the necessary skills to contribute to their communities.
UNICEF aims at enhancing the ability of female and male adolescents as well as youth to play a greater role in their society and at widening their opportunities for civic engagement through the following three main interventions:
First, in partnership with the Government of Egypt, NGOs and the private sector, UNICEF focuses on empowering young people in disadvantaged communities. UNICEF supports interventions to improve their access to information and to develop their skills. This involves life skills such as: communication, creative thinking and decision-making as well as entrepreneurship and employability skills. They are guided on their job seeking behavior, CV writing and interview techniques. This is complemented by career guidance services that provide young people with support in developing their career plans and in improving their prospects. These skills development and career guidance programmes are the main components of a long-lasting partnership between UNICEF and the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS) represented in “Meshwary” (My Journey) Project. The project signifies a partnership between UNICEF and the MoYS since 2008. As a result of the implementation of “Meshwary”, and since the initiation of the project until end of 2017, the number of young people reached by the skills development and career guidance programmes has reached about 64,000 young people from lower and upper Egypt as well as urban governorates.
The UNICEF Strategic Plan leverages a growing diversity of partnerships with government, civil society, and private sector entities to ensure a strong relationship with a wide array of stakeholders. Through Meshwary project, UNICEF utilised its private sector partnerships in order to expose Meshwary’s beneficiaries practical experiences of job or on-the-job opportunities at companies such as Starwood Le Meridien, Carrefour and Aramex Courier. Furthermore, Meshwary contributes to the improved protection, learning, and engagement of Egypt’s younger citizens. By providing these younger age groups with opportunities of mentorship capacity development, Meshwary directly contributes to their overall development.
Moreover, UNICEF fosters sports for development initiatives that use sports and physical activity to address inclusion and enhance the life skills of marginalized girls and children living and/ or working on the street.
Second, in partnership with the Ministry of State for Youth and Sports, the civic education programme aims at equipping young people with knowledge, skills and the right attitudes for active citizenship and civic engagement. In addition, UNICEF supports efforts to build the capacity of youth groups and school student unions to encourage adolescent and youth participation. Young people are also offered a venue to discuss child and youth rights using social media.
Finally, UNICEF plays a key role in policy advocacy on young people’s issues by promoting new research. It entails promoting national surveys and knowledge products that provide evidence about multi-sectoral policies and programmes for young people while encouraging their participation in policy dialogue.