Lebanon, Libya, Morocco
Youth Empowerment – Regional Overview
The MENA region is one of the most youthful in the world, with a median age of 22 years compared to a global average of 28. This will continue to be the reality for many years to come as youth are the fastest growing segment of the population with 60 per cent of the population under the age of 25.1 This situation creates certain opportunities for economic growth known as a demographic dividend, a boost in economic productivity that occurs when there are growing numbers of people in the workforce relative to the number of dependents. However, harnessing this dividend requires targeted investments in human capital and human potential. The youth unemployment rate in the region is almost 30 per cent, one of the highest in the world. This rate increases to 47 per cent among young women, which stands at only 16 per cent globally. This is in addition to the fact that participation in the work force of young women in the Arab region is lowest in the world at only 18 per cent which is less than half the global average of 39 per cent.2 Furthermore, dependency ratios are high in in the region, on average approximately 53 per cent, most of which is due to young dependents (43%) below working age rather than elderly dependents (10%).3 This means that there will be increasing numbers of entrants into the labour market as today’s young dependents reach working age.
A steady income is fundamental for youth in the region as it not only provides livelihood for themselves but is also considered a prerequisite for marriage and starting a family which is a key aspect of achieving adulthood. As illustrated by the events of the uprisings of 2011, lack of opportunities among youth for securing a socio-economically acceptable future can be a strong underlying cause of instability and eventual conflict4 as well as being a driver of irregular migration. Fortunately, youth are increasing turning to entrepreneurship in order to create livelihood opportunities for themselves. In fact, 39 per cent of fresh graduates are actively considering setting up their own business; 41 per cent may consider it in the future according to research by the job website bayt.com.5 That said, many obstacles face young entrepreneurs in the region from security issues and instability in countries like Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen with their knock on effects in Lebanon and Jordan to economic malaise in Egypt and Tunisia. While some of these issues are more intractable than others empowering youth to innovate and create social and economic value is surely a part of the solution to many challenges the countries of the region are facing.
IOM works for an orderly, safe and regular migration. It aims to guarantee a safe return home for migrants and effective reintegration. IOM would also like to draw the attention to the following pertaining issues:
CONTINUED NEEDS FOR INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION
VULNERABILITIES ON THE INCREASE
HOST GOVERNMENTS CONTINUE TO BEAR THE BURDEN
FUNDING NOT KEEPING UP WITH NEED
Figures in 2017
# of youth who have improved or acquired new vocational skills.
# of youth who were successfully supported to start or expand their own business.
# of NGOs with increased capacities to address the needs and aspirations of youth.
Over 5 million
PARTNERS & DONORS
USAID - Morocco