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.
Children & Youth
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.”
There is more to unemployment than the simple fact of not having a job. It brings with it a whole set of additional difficulties, and on a large scale can have far reaching social consequences. This is especially true for young people struggling with a lack of stable employment and weak prospects for landing any permanent work. Jobs are an important source of social identity, and without one, young people can be cast adrift.
On Monday, September 17th, I had an online chat with a number of youth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region on the topic of jobs and employment. I received hundreds of comments and questions before the chat, interacted with tens during an hour and a half and kept receiving comments and questions for two days after the chat. The process had a deep impact on me. It was refreshing, amazing, encouraging but also concerning.
High unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) largely reflects the growth deficit. While China has been growing at 10 percent for a decade and has unemployment below 5 percent. MENA is the mirror image, growing at 5 percent and suffering unemployment above 10 percent. The absence of strong growth in MENA has been a serious constraint to employment. It's worth noting though that MENA’s employment situation is not accurately described by the jobless growth that has plagued much of the industrial world in recent years.
“I am sorry, I am so very sorry, I did not mean to be disrespectful,” the young man says as soon as he has blurted his story out. He fidgets nervously with his little notepad. He is young, but the deep lines that crease his face reveal the hard life he has led. This is his story: “Do you know what it is like to wake up feeling ashamed every morning, feeling deeply ashamed that I cannot help support my aging parents,” he says, “that I cannot go and buy a bit of fruit for my little sister since I do not have a single coin in my pocket? I went to school, I did well, I went to university, I did even better but what was it good for? Nothing! Here I am, I cannot afford to get married. I cannot even look my mother in the eyes as I spend the nights in the street drowning my sorrows.” The young man lifts his head, his eyes welling up with tears. “I have been stripped of my manhood, or maybe I should say, I was never even allowed to become a man.”