Introduction and Background
In November 2011, FHI 360 in collaboration with the Qatar Foundation and with support of the General Electric (GE) Foundation, FHI 360’s Gender Department organized the first Arab Youth and Employability Symposium in Doha, Qatar in which the President of Silatech and the director of the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut presented. To build on the momentum generated by the event, the GE Foundation and FHI 360 plan to convene three additional symposia in 2013/2014 in conjunction with prominent local partners. The symposia are designed to advance knowledge of the social, political, cultural, and economic factors that contribute to systematic exclusion of youth, particularly young women, from the workforce in the Middle East and North Africa.
Like the Doha event, the new Symposia series will convene panels of the brightest and most creative experts on the challenges facing Arab youth, including youth themselves, in front of audiences comprised of representatives of the public and private sectors, civil society, and academia. Symposia series will bring rigorous analysis and open dialogue to each sub-region in the Middle East.
Diverse Participation and Partnerships
In partnership with local organizations, FHI360 will carefully select speakers known for delivering cutting-edge information to complement and build on earlier symposia. Local experts will provide a comprehensive context to the specific factors which aggravate youth unemployment in each region, and will focus on issues including youth politics, identity, exclusion, and opportunity. Speakers will represent key stakeholders from the region, including young social entrepreneurs, economic or political analysts, academics, gender specialists, business representatives and community leaders. They will provide an overview of economic and cultural issues in the region; examples of efforts to promote entrepreneurship, small businesses, and innovation; analyses of the constraints and opportunities that affect youth employment; and insights about future projections for Arab Youth and pathways for solutions.
FHI 360, in collaboration with the Université Mohammed V-Agdal in Rabat, Morocco, with the support of the GE Foundation, is pleased to announce the second in a series of symposia called Youth, Gender and Employability in the Arab World: A Focus on Morocco. The symposium will be held 13 February 2013 on the campus of the Université Mohammed V-Agdal, and the audience will be academia, civil society, government and the international community. Confirmed speakers include:
Use of Social Media
The new series of events will proactively include youth voices and opinions to shape the symposia by integrating social media engagement at every level. The effort will meet young people where they already congregate online, so that their voices will be heard on the critical issues facing their working lives, their families, and their futures. The website and social media platforms created to support the symposia will draw diverse youth into concrete discussions that address employment and gender challenges in the Arab world. The knowledge materials on the web site and associated with the campaign will provide simple ways to speak up, get involved and share in social networks. In addition, outreach efforts will include youth surveys, single question opinion polls on social media, and facilitated chats to gather and present youth ideas.
Building the Base
To build the campaign, FHI 360 will create partnerships with existing organizations and civil society groups with existing social media followings on Twitter, Facebook and key regional blog platforms. The project will leverage these existing networks to establish a stronger, larger and more coordinated youth base to engage in the symposia. We will engage youth and adults with high digital influence among our target populations to take leadership roles in the engagement effort.
To define the youth employability landscape from the lens of young people, the partnership will launch a short survey to determine what youth consider to be the most pressing needs and potential solutions. The survey will be promoted online via the web site as well as through project partners. Key individual questions from the survey will also be asked via the project’s social media channels in order to seek input from youth who are not likely to complete a full survey.
Sample survey questions include:
- Do you think your gender (male or female) impacts your ability to find employment?
- How well has your education prepared you for your current or future job?
- What type of training and skills building would be most helpful for employment?
- Which sector do you think can be most helpful in preparing young people in your country to find employment?
Andrea Bertone, Ph.D.
Director, Gender Department