The Egyptian version of the UN global initiative "Generation Unlimited"

Launch of the National platform "Shabab Balad" (Country's Youth) during the "World Youth Forum

11 January 2022
Launch of the National platform "Shabab Balad" (Country's Youth) during the "World Youth Forum
UNICEF/Egypt 2022/Basma Fathy

"Shabab Balad" in its first phase to train and build capacities of 1 million young people 

  • Minister of International Cooperation: “Shabab Balad” is a guiding partnership between the government, the international entities and the young people. 
  • UNICEF Executive Director: We aim for every young person in the world to have the opportunity to attend school, learn, get trained or have an appropriate job by 2030
  • CEO of the global Initiative, “Generation Unlimited”: The initiative reached 220 million young people and more than 3,000 partners in more than 50 countries
  • UN Resident Coordinator: "Shabab Balad" platform will have a tremendous impact on young people in Egypt and the entire country
  • UNICEF Representative in Egypt: "Shabab Balad" is not just an initiative, it's a movement that includes the whole society
  • U.S. Ambassador: Governments' role is crucial in paving the way for the launch and operation of such platforms
  • U.K. Ambassador: Egypt’s young population offers huge potential. Investing in young people and empowering them is indeed a shared priority
  • Private sector: unifying efforts and directing investments from the private sector is one of the most important elements of the success of "Shabab Balad"

Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt) - January 11, 2022: The Egyptian version of the United Nations'  initiative “Generation Unlimited” was launched today under the name “Shabab Balad” during the World Youth Forum 2021 (WYF) in Sharm El Sheikh under the auspices of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, making Egypt the first country in the region to witness the launch of a national version of the international platform.

The international initiative is the first partnership between the government sector, the private sector and youth in the world, with the aim of providing skills training and connecting all the world's 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10-24 years with employment, entrepreneurship, and positive social impact opportunities.

Launch of the National platform "Shabab Balad" (Country's Youth) during the "World Youth Forum
UNICEF/Egypt 2022/Basma Fathy

The "Shabab Balad" platform was launched during a morning session at the WYF. Attended by H.E. Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, H.E. Dr. Mohamed Maait, Minister of Finance, H.E. Dr. Asharaf Sobhy, Minister of Youth and Sports, Dr. Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as well as a number of UN Representatives, diplomates, politicians, the civil society and the private sector. A short video explaining the idea of ​​the platform and the efforts of the participating UN agencieswas shown, beside a short spot projecting  the expectations ofEgyptian youth.

Dr. Kevin Frey, the CEO of the global Initiative “Generation Unlimited”, gave the keynote speech after which a discussion took place between stakeholder representatives from government agencies, UN agencies, the private sector and young people.

Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation in Egypt, affirmed "The importance of "Shabab Balad" platform which is a unique cooperation between international agencies represented in the United Nations and other developmental partners who support the initiative, the government, the young people, the civil society, the private sector and young people.” 

She added that the new platform endorsed Egypt’s vision 2030 which targets empowering young people through creating training, educational opportunities, and to provide them with the skills necessary for the labor market, and encourage them to become entrepreneurs and active participants in society."

She said: "I call on the private sector, civil society, and youth to join hands and actively participate in the "Shabab Balad". Uniting efforts and directing investments will achieve the country’s youth development goals as part of Egypt's Vision 2030."

Launch of the National platform "Shabab Balad" (Country's Youth) during the "World Youth Forum
UNICEF/Egypt 2022/Basma Fathy

Egypt was chosen to launch the first national version in the region of the global initiative “Generation Unlimited”. The global initiative was launched at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2018, to bring together world leaders, public, private and youth-led institutions to partner, finance and provide scalable solutions for young people, thus contributing to the operationalization of the United Nations Strategy on Youth (2030) and progress in achieving the sustainable development goals. The initiative adopts the concept of "learning to earning" as a way to align youth capabilities with the needs of the labor market.

In her recorded speech welcoming the opening of the 4th edition of WYF, UNICEF Executive Director Ms. Henrietta Fore said the global initiative "has an audacious goal – to have every young person in the world in school: learning, training for every boy and girl in the world to have a chance to go to school, learn, train or have an appropriate job by 2030."

She added: "Our youth - or as you say in Arabic "Shabab Balad"- are the most critical agents for positive change. Their creativity and innovation are already helping to create solutions to the problems we face."

In his keynote speech at the launch of the "Shabab Balad"platform, Dr. Kevin Frey, CEO of the International Initiative,said: “We are proud of everything we have collectively accomplished in our first three years. In just such a short time, the international platform has reached 220 million young people along with more than 3,000 partners, operating in over 50 countries with opportunities for skills acquisition, employment, entrepreneurship and social impact."

UNICEF has been chosen as the secretariate within the United Nations organizations for the International Initiative in Egypt in coordination with the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Egypt and all United Nations organizations in the country.

"The platform aims to put young people at the heart of everything we do," said the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Egypt, Ms. Elena Panova, "Egypt is a regional power that has strong partnerships with the rest of the world. We strongly believe that through the meaningful engagement of all stakeholders, the "Shabab Balad" platform" will have a tremendous impact on youth in Egypt and the entire country."

Mr. Jeremy Hopkins, UNICEF Representative in Egypt, said: “Egypt’s strong vision for 2030, specifically with regard toyouth education, entrepreneurship and employment, provides the basis on which the "Shabab Balad" platform can play an important role in supporting and motivating the progress of the country’s youth.”

He added: "The "Shabab Balad" Platform is not just a program, but rather a movement that includes the entire society."

“The United States is the single largest donor to UNICEF’s work globally.  Our $4 million “Creating an Enabling Environment for Adolescent Girls” project in Egypt helps girls gain job skills, supports their health, and helps civil society and local governments provide necessary services.  We look forward to continued partnership with UNICEF, as well as international and local public and private sector counterparts, to advocate the lives of Egyptian Youth.” said H.E. Jonathan Cohen, US Ambassador to Egypt.

“I was pleased to meet many inspiring young people at the Youth Forum.” He added: “Egypt’s young population offers huge potential. Investing in young people and empowering them is indeed a shared priority.” said H.E. Gareth Bayley , UK Ambassador to Egypt. 

The representative of the private sector in the session, Dr. Amir Barsoum, Chairman and Co-founder of Vezeeta Healthcare, said: “Our experience in Vezeeta Healthcare as a leading global platform in the field of healthcare supports the importance of the “Shabab Balad” platform in putting young people on the right path to achieving themselves.”

He added that "unifying efforts and directing investments from the private sector are among the most important elements of the success of the "Shabab Balad" Platform."

He announced that "Vezeeta will support the "Shabab Balad" platform by placing investments and providing training opportunities through the platform for thousands of young people in several fields, the most important of which are the technology and healthcare sectors."

On her part, Pasant Mohamed, Youth Representative said at the session, “Shabab Balad” will help the young people to be at the forefront of the partnerships between the government and the private sector”

She added:” The partnership created by “Shabab Balad” will help equip young people at a very early stage with to be prepared to the needs of the labor market.”

The work of the "Shabab Balad" platform will focus on four areas: improving youth skills, transforming continuing education, raising employability, and instilling the concept of entrepreneurship among young people.

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Hala Abu Khatwa
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