UNICEF receives USD $1,4 million from the Government of Canada to support young people’s transition to entrepreneurship and employment in Iraq

More than 1,500 socially excluded young people aged between 10-24 years from Baghdad, Anbar and Basra, over half of them girls, will receive direct support to transition from learning to earning and social inclusion

28 April 2022

Baghdad, 28 April 2022- The Government of Canada has contributed USD$1.4 million to UNICEF to support close to 1,500 young people in Iraq to generate educational and economic opportunities for inclusive development and participation for a 2-year period. UNICEF will support girls’ equal participation in learning, skill development and employability, which will contribute to their empowerment and expansion of options as they transition to adulthood. The programme will support girls and boys with tailored interventions to transition from learning to earning in Baghdad, Anbar and Basra. 

“With nearly half of the Iraqi population under 19 years old and almost a quarter of the population between the ages of 15 and 24, Iraqi youth are the backbone for social, economic, and political transformation. Through this funding, UNICEF reaffirms its commitment to leaving no one behind and promoting gender equality to support young people with opportunities to create a better future for them and their communities,” said Sheema SenGupta, UNICEF’s Representative in Iraq. 

“The prolonged conflict, economic and social crises in Iraq and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, have severely affected young people. Given that Iraq has a large youth population, we believe that investing in youth and strengthening their employability will facilitate their social and economic reintegration and enable them to contribute to the country’s progress towards peace and prosperity. Canada is pleased to support this initiative from UNICEF to strengthen the economic participation and civic engagement of vulnerable and marginalized young boys and girls in Iraq, helping them to become agents of change for their own lives and their communities”, said Gregory Galligan, Ambassador of Canada to Iraq.

Learning, engagement, and labour market participation constraints are multiplied when they are experienced by girls. Added constraints and vulnerabilities exist for them such as conservative social norms, early marriage and pregnancy, domestic responsibilities, the threat of gender-based violence, fewer opportunities to attend school, limited access to services to be financially independent, as well as legal barriers to the labour market and other economic freedoms. The end goal of the project is for girls to serve as equal and empowered community innovators, proposing, co-designing and leading positive development and serving as role models for other girls, and boys.

The project will be implemented through a Life Skills Citizenship Education framework that builds youth’s skills around learning, employment, empowerment, and active citizenship, while also supporting youth-led innovative initiatives and amplifying their voices to empower them as agents of change within their communities.  

To strengthen the project and ensure sustainability, UNICEF will provide technical assistance to government stakeholders, including the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and their regional directorates to build their capacity on gender equality approaches as well as concepts related to youth development and participation to effectively deliver relevant services for most vulnerable young people, especially girls. 

UNICEF and Canada with these funds aim to unlock the potential of young people in Iraq by accelerating progress in improving their skills for learning and employability. The project will continue to encourage youth economically, personally and socially with a vision to increase learning and empowerment of young people as a means to ensure equity for all.  

Media contacts

Miguel Mateos Munoz
Chief of Communication
Tel: +964 7827820238
Zaid Fahmi
Communication Officer
Tel: 07809126781


UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child; in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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