By Lisa Zeller (Austria)
‘Today youth is three times more likely to be unemployed than the older generations’, – UNIDO representative Abdel Kadi began his speech at the panel discussion dedicated to inclusive development at the African Diaspora Youth Forum in Europe 2015.
Assisting, not intervening
Input on the possibilities for young entrepreneurs was given by him mainly for least developed countries – countries that are mainly affected by crisis, war and conflict.
‘This can be addressed with youth employment and social cohesion’, – said Kadi.
He went on to introduce the UNIDO program IDEA (Inclusive Development Entrepreneurship for all). The program aims to tackle the informal working sector by accompanying young people to turn informal work into a formal one.
According to Kadi, UNIDO sees its role not as intervening, but as assisting.
‘We are not trying to reinvent the wheel. We are trying to give a frame’, – said Kadi.
According to him, in order to achieve this, the programme has to be flexible to any country. Additionally, it has to address not only young people, but also ‘people with an anchor’ that can employ and train the youth.
Different surroundings – same problems
Another panellist, Somaya Moll, also works for UNIDO. She has been involved in projects in various African countries, but she highlights a success story on non-African grounds, namely Armenia.
‘Sometimes it is good to look at similar problems in a different surrounding to find solutions for yourself’, – explained Moll.
In Armenia, UNIDO supported a 25-year old female entrepreneur in starting her business of making salted nuts. Concrete actions they took were to help professionalise her abilities and give her technical assistance to start her business.
‘The minute you create new jobs, you create more state revenue’, – said Moll.
She also recognizes that the approach to increase and support entrepreneurship is not the only way for development.
‘Entrepreneurship is not the one solution. It is one way’, – acknowledged Moll.
Panel moderator from European Youth Press, Milena Stosic, asked a question that popped up on twitter: ‘What skills are needed to be eligible for the program?’.
Moll responds clearly: ‘First, it is about awareness raising. You cannot expect people to know what skills they need in advance. You should be willing to take a risk and have confidence in yourself’.
It has also proven to be successful if you have done the activity for a while.
‘What is lacking in developing countries often is a role model. Fill the social gap, not only the economic gap’, – added Moll.
Equal rights as a way to peace
The first one to bring up a gender perspective in the discussion was Sanaa Afouaiz, women advocate and youth activist.
‘Today we live in a world of extreme – extreme poverty, extreme food issues, extreme health issues’, – she said an continued – ‘With being more than 50% of the world’s population, women cannot be taken out!’.
She stressed that nowadays it still very common that women not only work full-time in various professional areas, but also take care of household duties. Afouaiz gave a concrete example of a woman she met. This woman worked on a farm and at home. On top of that, she had to give all her money to her husband at the end of the day. When she stood up for her right to manage her own wage, her husband divorced her. But what struck her more than the divorce, according to Afouaiz, is that she ‘found all the doors shut down at the government when she asked for legal assistance to fight for her right’.
Not a lot of effort was given to secure gender balance in the informal sector and women have less access to entrepreneurship, believes Afouaiz.
She is confident: ‘When we have equal rights, there will be less war, less violence, and more food in developing countries’.
Are we the future?
Chantal Afou Bengaly from the International Movement of Catholic Students focused on the concept of development aid.
‘Africa does not need help but job creation’, – said Bengaly. This, to her, is sustainable development.
‘We need to be a part of the change and we should be the engine of the change’, – believes Bengaly.
‘Are we preparing young people for the future or for the present? Do we say young people are the future? Are we the future?’, – she wondered.
She concluded her speech with the idea that participatory action is the key in development. However, she mentioned that the investment in young people through educational trainings and informal education is also crucial.
‘Remittances contribute to development, but the institutional level is also needed’, – said Bengaly.
She explained her statement by the fact that many families, which receive remittances often did not know how to use the money and how to invest it.
Inclusion of women with special needs
After the round of introductory speeches, the floor was opened to the audience for questions. Several questions were asked to both UNIDO representatives about what opportunities they give and what is their selection and application process.
Another question specifically addressed to Sanaa Afouaiz and Chantal Afou Bengaly certainly remained in everyone’s memory.
‘We always talk about inclusiveness and forget women with disabilities. How well developed is accessibility for disabled people in your organisation?’, – asked VAS member Mariam Mamian Diakité.
Afouaiz responded that she worked with disabled women and women with special needs. Chantal admitted that they do not have disabled people in their organisation, but that they are working with communities, child adoption programmes, support orphanage kids and that they offer equal treatment regardless of disabilities or non-disabilities.
At the end of the panel, the moderator Stosic concluded that multisectoral cooperation should be the key in all aspects of the work. She also mentioned the ratio of male / female speakers on the panel, which was 5:1.
‘We have been talking about representation of women. I think that in this panel, we did quite a good job regarding this, and hopefully this will soon be the case for the rest of the world, too, – concluded Stosic.