I was a high school teacher in the Bay area in California and reverse immigrated to Egypt. I had a few hours available to me and I wanted to teach, so one day by coincidence someone in my church asked me to teach Arabic in Cairo’s “Garbage City.” What I witnessed was a horror initially, but then fell in love with a group of people with such an incredible work ethic. Over the years, I’ve watched an amazing transformation of their trade.
Children & Youth
Over the next decade, the Middle East and North Africa faces the challenge of creating 40 million jobs for its youth with an estimated 10.7 million new entrants expected to join the labor force. With nearly one in five people between the ages of 15 and 24, the region has one of the youngest populations in the world. Therefore, the employment response must be well above average to employ the current and future jobseekers.
What are the chances that Hania and Abdallah will have adequate access to basic services that are crucial for their growth and development? What are the difficulties that children like Hania face due to factors, such as gender, birthplace, and family wealth, which are beyond their control? How does Egypt perform in ensuring equitable access to basic services for all of its children?
As the Arab Spring swept through the region, Iraq was at war and fighting a homegrown insurgency. Since the war’s end, Iraq has had to pick up the pieces and come to terms with its sanctions and bloody sectarian conflict. How Iraq addresses these challenges in the medium term will have a long-term effect on its stability and development.
An analysis of the quality of growth, and more specifically of the dynamics of the private sector is necessary to understand a region’s underperformance in job creation. While many countries in the Middle East and North Africa region had periods of solid growth over the past decade, they all underperformed in job creation. This is because the quality of growth matters as much as the quantity.
One could easily think that in Tunisia the "International Right to Know" day would be a celebration. As a result of the January 2011 uprising, the country hosts one of the most progressive access to information laws in the region, its press is active, and civil society has flourished. But what I experienced last Friday was hardly a celebration – it was work.
Pervasive unemployment is arguably one of the most pressing policy challenges in many countries across the Middle East and North Africa region. Youth, women, and higher education graduates seem to be the hardest hit. With reference to the latter group, some say the youth bulge combined with better access to higher education has produced more graduates, but these then entered relatively stagnant economies with rigid labor regulations.
The World Bank’s database Global Findex estimates that more than 2.5 billion people from around the world lack access to formal financial institutions, with the largest concentrations in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs). This places the poor at a disadvantage, and significantly limits their ability to smooth their expenditures and engage in productive economic activity, particularly at a level and capacity sufficient to lift them out of poverty.
Connect4Climate (C4C) launched their first competition aimed at engaging African youth on climate issues and challenging them to tell their personal climate stories through photos and videos.This year, C4C wants to hear climate change stories from youth ages 13-35 around the globe for our new competition, Voices4Climate. Thanks to new partnerships with TerrAfrica and MTV Voices, we’ve introduced podcasts and music videos to the mix.
Over the course of our research we have encountered a number of explanations for the difficulties people face in finding jobs in the Middle East and North Africa region. Some contend that there are simply no jobs, while others that they don’t have the qualifications for the jobs that are available, and still others feel that they do not have the means or tools at their disposal to find potential jobs, a situation that economists refer to as, “poor labor market intermediation.”