From a craftsman to a well-rounded strategic decision maker

Today, women and youth are ruling over the world and making their mark in various fields with their dedication and hard work to excel in their area of expertise, especially that the youth are the future, and one day will control the nation, but is this the case in Egypt? Well, a major area of concern in Egypt is the youth representing about 20% of Egypt’s total population, whereas rural youth account for 59% of Egypt’s total youth and representing 85% of Egypt’s poor youth (2009 Survey of Young People in Egypt – SYPE).  Further, female participation in the Egyptian labor market is among the lowest in the world since it is a highly gender-discriminated market, in which young women (aged 18 – 29) represent only 18.5% of the Egyptian workforce.

ENID is implementing a set of four highly integrated programs, each of which has the potential to impact on job creation and poverty reduction in both the medium and longer term. The first group of beneficiaries targeted by ENID programs is the youth and women segments of Upper Egypt society. We had the chance to interview Engineer Ayat Abdel Mooty, who is the Manager of Program A “Empowerment of Women and Youth”, during ENID’s first annual conference.

But what does “women empowerment” really stand for?

Rania Salem, Yuk Fai Cheong, Kristin VanderEnde and Kathryn M. Yount define women empowerment in their paper “Is Women’s Work a Pathway to their Agency in Rural Egypt?” as the process by which a woman acquires enabling resources, which in turn may enhance her ability to make strategic life choices in a historically gender-inequitable context. They explain that the enabling resources may be human, such as schooling attainment, or economic, such as earnings or assets, or social, such as membership in formal or informal extra-familial networks. And here comes ENID’s role by trying to provide the enabling resources to rural women and youth through the projects being undertaken in Upper Egypt.

Abdel Mooty briefed us during the second session of the conference on her program which also focuses on the Youth Centers in Qena. She explains that Youth Centers have been neglected for so long by only focusing on the recreational activities, that’s why the majority of them remained under-utilized which can be proved by the very low attendance level, especially that of girls. Program A’s mission is to transform the Youth Centers from sports-focused services to a community center that serves all segments of society by providing services for employability mainly, as well as for social aspects.

Last but not least, Abdel Mooty stresses the need to engage civil society and the private sector as key partners in the labor market system, through capacity building to key government entities who work with youth. In addition to motivating the private sector to adopt advanced employee training and qualification polices, it is also essential to develop a volunteerism policy to operate in a more structural form. To be more precise, the main aim is not just to teach women and youth a craft, but to develop well-rounded decision makers on 3 fronts; academic, cultural and ethical.

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