Youth in North Africa have experienced a steady and significant growth in unemployment over the past decade. However, as opposed to the other countries in the region, the increase in the unemployment rate and other factors led to a greater frustration and unhappiness among youth, which, in the absence of a political process that allowed them to express their views, resulted in instability in some of the North African countries. This instability prompted some of the governments in the MENA region to rethink their employment policy agenda and focus on inclusive, employment-creating and sustainable growth strategies that are aimed particularly at addressing the special needs of the young. The Government of Morocco was one of the first countries in the region that made some political and social reforms to address the challenges facing youth.

The second symposium of the series was organized in Rabat, Morocco in partnership with Mohamed V University-Agdal and focused on identifying the major challenges youth in North Africa, and in particular Morocco, face and proposed some key actions about how to address these hurdles. The symposium convened representatives of local NGOs, including youth- and women-led organizations, young entrepreneurs, university students and professors as well as representatives from the public and private sectors.



Dr. Wail Benjalloun
President, Université Mohammed V-Agdal


Dr. Andrea M. Bertone
Director, Gender Department, FHI360


Abdelouahed Souhail
Minister, Employment and Vocational Training Ministry, Morocco

Mhammed Abbad Andaloussi
Chairman & CEO, INJAZ Al Maghrib


Arab Youth Status: Overview and Analysis

Robert L. Corcoran (Moderator)
President & Chariman, GE Foundation

Dr. Loubna Skalli Hanna
Assistant Professor, School of International Service,
American University, Washington, DC
"Youth Politics and Employment in Morocco"

Zamila Bunglawala
Fellow, The Young Foundation, UK
"Youth, Gender and Employability in the Arab World: Sub-regional Linkages"


Policy and Program Perspectives

Krista Bauer (Moderator)
Director, GE Global Programs

Dr. Mariam Guyer
Morocco Country Representative, Silatech
"Youth-focused Programming and Research in Morocco"

Dr. Aziza Chbani
Director, Literacy Professional Development project,
Agence du Partenariat pour le Progress
"Empowering Youth as Agents of Change in Morocco"

Khaddouj Benkhadra
Coordinator, Moustaqbali, Morocco


Facilitated Discussion with Youth about Moroccan-based Solutions

Farah Cherif D'Ouezzan (Facilitator)
Founder & Director, Center for Cross Cultural Learning

Ikbale Afqir, Youth Entrepreneur
Marieme Boufels, Youth Entrepreneur
Lina Yakhloufi, Student & Entrepreneur
Sami Abdellaoui, Student & Entrepreneur
Marouane El Moutaouakil, Founder


Dr. Mokhtar El Harras
Professor, Sociology Department, Université Mohammed V-Agdal

What We Learned

Based on the discussions from the symposium in Morocco, we identified the following challenges that youth face in North African countries in general, and Morocco in particular:

  • A passive education system (at secondary and tertiary levels) that does not encourage innovation and youth participation in the labor market
  • Entrepreneurship is not encouraged as it requires taking risks
  • Lack of financial security for young people
  • Low paying jobs for youth keep them and their families in poverty
  • Internet is not fully utilized by youth to find training and employment opportunities
  • Lack of literacy programs for women
  • Cultural barriers (i.e. family values) that limit women's access and choices for employment
  • Traditional stereotyping and attitudes towards women's participation in the labor force lead to lower wages
  • Gender-blind labor laws hinder women's access to the formal labor market and equal wages
  • A weak job market with limited opportunities for innovative approaches
  • Nepotism is a barrier to job seekers with few or no connections

Media Gallery


Abdelouahed Souhail

Abdelouahed SouhailMinister of Employment and Vocational Training, Morocco, Mr. Souhail received a degree in economics from the Faculty of Law and Economic Sciences in Casablanca. Mr. Souhail has held numerous leadership and management positions at the Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieur (BMCE), where he worked for over thirty years. Mr. Suhail acts as a community activist and serves as a member of the Political Bureau of the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS) and various other cultural and social associations.

Dr. Wail Benjelloun

Dr. Wail BenjellounAs President of Université Mohammed V-Agdal, Morocco, Dr. Benjelloun has served as president of Morocco's oldest university since December 2010 where he has been teaching since 1976. Dr. Benjelloun holds a Ph.D in Neuroscience from New York State University at Binghamton. He has published numerous articles in specialised journals. He was the first Vice President for Academic Affairs at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane and was appointed Dean of the Université Mohammed V-Agdal Faculty of Science in 1995. Dr Benjelloun has served on many national and international scientific committees and review boards. He is the current President of the Moroccan-American Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange (Fulbright Morocco) and is the President-elect of the International Society of Pathophysiology.

Robert Corcoran

Robert CorcoranRobert Corcoran is the Former Vice President, Corporate Citizenship and Former President & Chairman of the GE Foundation. Mr. Corcoran was responsible for GE's global citizenship and philanthropic activities, health, public education, community building, disaster relief, and volunteerism initiatives. Previously, he served as Vice President of Human Resources for GE Healthcare and his 35-year GE career has included key human resource leadership roles in GE's Healthcare, Aviation, Lighting and Aerospace businesses.  He was elected a Corporate Officer by the GE Board of Directors in 2000.

Mhammed Abbad Andaloussi

Mhammed Abbad AndaloussiMr. Andaloussi is a member of the Moroccan High Council of Education, an Ashoka Fellow, a Synergos Senior Fellow, and a Schwab Foundation Fellow. He has received several awards including the Social Entrepreneur for 2010 for the Middle East and North Africa; Clinton Global Citizen Award (2011); and World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) for his project Partnership School Business (2011). Mr. Andaloussi is also founder of Al Jisr the Bridge, that fosters collaboration among the private sector, the government and the school system.

Dr. Mokhtar El Harras

Dr. Mokhtar El HarrasDr. Mokhtar El Harras has been a Professor of Sociology at Université Mohammed V-Agdal since 1978. Dr. El Harras has authored various publications on topics such as tribe structure change in Northern Morocco, family, youth, gender issues, and qualitative methods in social sciences. He has collaborated with several national and international organizations and institutions on research related to reproductive health, handicapped people, sexual transmitted infections, drug users, social health, women's illiteracy, internal and international migration, social economy and the new technologies of information.

Dr. Aziza Chbani

Dr. Aziza ChbaniDr. Aziza Chbani is a development expert with more than 20 years of experience in the education sector. Dr. Chbani was the Director of the Functional Literacy and Professional Development project, managed by the Agency of Partnership for Progress (APP), financed by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). Prior to this role, Dr. Chbani was the Director of Education and Training component of the USAID-funded ALEF project in Morocco where she developed school projects and social mobilization, school clubs "Youth for Youth," programs on entrepreneurial spirit and literacy programs. Dr. Chbani has been invited by international donor agencies to several seminars and workshops to design and deliver programs on vocational training and employability skills development. She holds a B.S. in Mathematics, a B.A. in Educational Science, and an M.A. in Measurement and Evaluation from Univesity of Laval in Quebec, Canada.

Dr. Loubna Skalli Hanna

Dr. Loubna Skalli HannaDr. Loubna Skalli Hanna is Assistant Professor in the School of International Service at American University (AU) in Washington DC. Prior to joining AU, Dr. Hanna was Associate Professor at Ibn Tofail University in Kenitra, Morocco and has taught in several institutes of higher education. Her teaching, research and publications examine issues at the intersection of gender, youth, communication and the politics of development in the Middle East and North Africa. Dr. Hanna is an active member of CSOs and has served as a member of the UNESCO Chair on "Women and their Rights" in Morocco.

Mariam Taybji Guyer

Mariam Taybji GuyerMariam Taybji Guyer is Silatech Country Advisor since May 2008 and Morocco Country Representative since December 2009, representing Silatech strategically and operationally, overseeing the successful design and implementation of all initiatives and programmes in Morocco. Ms. Guyer has been an entrepreneur and investor in Morocco since 1990, founded and managed four companies in the fields of community development, youth training and employment, investment promotion and the use of renewable energies.  As a diplomat's daughter, she has studied all over the world, with secondary studies in French schools and university and graduate studies in the US.

Krista Bauer

Krista BauerFormer Director of Global Programs for the GE Company, Ms. Bauer oversaw philanthropic programs related to health, environment, non-US education and humanitarian relief. Ms, Bauer managed the company's product donation investments worldwide. Ms. Bauer was responsible for GE's disaster relief actions and signature health programs such as Developing Health and Developing Health Globally. She holds a B.S. and M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University, and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Zamila Bunglawala

Zamila BunglawalaA Fellow at The Young Foundation in UK, Ms. Bunglawala is a program designer of the Empowering Entrepreneurs program which focuses on career and entrepreneurship development. Ms. Bunglawala's previous roles include strategic policy, program analysis, and implementation for the Brookings Institute, the British Government, United Nations, and Open Society Foundation.  She is a specialist in labour markets, socio-economic inclusion of minority groups, innovation, and rule of law and humanitarian aid in conflict zones. Ms. Bunglawala received her B.A. in Political Science from Queen Mary University of London and her post-graduate degree in Law from the College of Law, London.

Farah Cherif D'Ouezzan

Farah Cherif D'OuezzanFounder and Director of the Center for Cross Cultural Learning (CCCL) in Rabat, Ms. D'Ouezzan works to develop educational and cultural programs for students and adults. Ms. D'Ouezzan lectures in the field of comparative religion, Islam, Sufism, women and gender issues. She serves as a freelance trainer, consultant and expert in the fields of Intercultural Learning, Human Rights Education, Youth Participation in Civil Society, and Conflict Resolution. She received a post-graduate European Certificate from the International Women's University in Hanover, Germany.

Dr. Andrea Bertone

Dr. Andrea BertoneDirector of the Gender Department at FHI 360, has more than 15 years of international development experience including girls' education, anti-human trafficking, gender-based violence, gender integration, women's empowerment, economic productivity and women's leadership. Dr. Bertone's technical expertise includes gender integration, business development, proposal design and management, and liaison with multiple donors. 

Khaddouj Benkhadra

Khaddouj BenkhadraKhaddouj Benkhadra is the Program Manager for Morocco Trade and Development Services/ MTDS, ICT for Development ICT4D project that is funded by USAID. She has relevant expertise in community media and in the use of Information and Communication Technologies for tackling development issues. Ms. Benkhadra works closely with CSOs, teachers, youth, training institutions and media. Ms. Benkhadra has received her Bachelors degree in Business Administration and Finance from the Al-Akhawayyn-Ifrane University in Morocco.

Dr. Marouane El Moutaouakil

Dr. Marouane El MoutaouakilDr. Marouane El Moutaouakil is a young entrepreneur and the Founder of He works as a consultant and coach in social entrepreneurship, an internal auditor at BENEVOLUS and has been active for more than 10 years in social work including 5 years of entrepreneurial activities. He received his Ph.D. in Social Entrepreneurship at the National School of Business and Management in Tangier.

Ikbale Afqir

Ikbale AfqirAs a young entrepreneur in Fez, Morocco, Ikbale opened his own restaurant with funding from INDH, Initiative Nationale pour le Dévelopement Humain. He is an active member in Chourouk Centre for Social Development (Centre Chourouk pour le Développement Social) which provides training and coaching for start up businesses. Mr. Afqir provides the same opportunities of training and employment for his young staff.

Marieme Boufels

Marieme BoufelsA young entrepreneur in Fez, Morocco, Marieme developed her own sewing business with funding from the INDH (Initiative Nationale pour le Dévelopement Humain). She is an active member of the Chourouk Centre for Social Development which provides training and coaching for start up businesses.

Lina Yakhloufi

Lina YakhloufiLina Yakhloufi is a young entrepreneur and a student at Université Mohammed V, Agdal. Lina is the CEO and Co-founder of Youth Yell, in Rabat, Morocco. Lina won an award for best young Moroccan company in 2010 and an award for most innovative Arab product in INJAZ Al Arab Regional Competition, 2011 in Amman, Jordan. Ms. Yakhloufi participated in the US Department of State Women's Leadership Program in 2011.

Sami Abdellaoui

Sami AbdellaouiSami Abdellaoui is a young entrepreneur and a student at Université Mohammed V, Agdal. He is also the Chairman of Youth Yell, a youth based company founded under the patronage of INJAZ, Junior Achievement program. Sami is also a member of JCI, Jeune Chambre Internationale in Rabat and works as a trainer for JCI/ INJAZ Al Maghrib ''Economics for Success'' program which helps youth develop life skills.