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What Works in Youth and Women’s Employment in MENA?
On 7 & 8 May, the ILO will join partners to share the current status and progress on what works in youth and women’s employment in the MENA region while promoting multi-sectoral collaboration to define and address priorities for policy formulation. Key to this is the regional Community of Practice on Youth Employment, to facilitate knowledge sharing, partnership creation and up-scaling of successful youth employment interventions.
What is the challenge?Youth unemployment rates in the Arab States and North Africa regions have been the highest in the world for the past 25 years and continue to rise. In fact the Arab States region reached a youth unemployment peak in 2016 of 30.4 per cent - a 4 percentage point rise over the proceeding decade. The struggle of young Arabs’ to find decent work is exacerbated by ongoing armed conflicts, migration waves and low levels of economic growth. Women and rural populations face many similar challenges including decent work deficits, low labour force participation and a difficult transition from school to work. Labour force participation rates among women in the region are low; only 15 per cent among young women, as compared to 37 per cent worldwide. In dealing with these challenges, countries across the region have launched a series of policy and programmatic initiatives. Governments, social partners, civil society and development partners have joined forces to promote women’s and youth employment and entrepreneurship as key policy issues. For example, Egypt launched the Egyptian Youth Employment (EYE) Programme, in collaboration with Global Affairs Canada and the ILO’s Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People. Jordan initiated the National Programme for Empowerment and Employment while Tunisia is formulating a new national employment policy. The first regional conference for social partners on Youth Employment in North Africa (YENA) was hosted by the ILO in September 2017, resulting in a regional plan (the “YENA” roadmap). An important element of success of national and regional employment initiatives is that programmes are designed based on the evidence for “what works”. The MENA region has benefitted from the extensive growth of the evidence base over the past decade due to improved labour market data, diagnostics and impact evaluations. A key component has been the “Taqeem Initiative”, a regional impact research and capacity development project. Taqeem is a partnership between the ILO and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) whose goal is to strengthen gender monitoring and evaluation in rural employment in the Near East and North Africa. Objective This Knowledge Sharing Forum will be an opportunity to share the current status and progress on what works in youth and women’s employment in the MENA region while promoting multi-sectoral collaboration to define and address priorities for policy formulation. Key to this is the further establishment and growth of a regional Community of Practice (CoP) to facilitate knowledge sharing, partnership creation and up-scaling of successful youth employment programmes. The current 17 members (see list in annex) of the Taqeem CoP are a group of organizations implementing innovative results measurement strategies and conducting impact evaluations on youth and women’s employment, with a focus on the rural economy. The event will allow the CoP members to share their experiences on results measurement and impact assessment in youth employment. Complementary to this is the piloting of the ILO’s new “Guide on Measurement of Decent Jobs for Youth” that provides comprehensive guidance to evaluating, monitoring and learning in labour market programmes targeting young people.