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Economic Empowerment, how it matters to young people’s and women’s resilience

19 December 2019

Over 77% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 35 with 11.7% of them being unemployed. Adolescents between 12-18 years old are often transitioning from a rural to an urban life, seeking entry into new environments whose social and economic dynamics they neither understand nor are prepared to navigate. This leaves them prone to experience violence and exploitation and with limited access to opportunities. Young girls are often the most marginalised of this group. Focusing on gender sensitive programming for youth that includes job creation, education and access to services is important, as it increases ways to boost their resilience, especially during their transition into adulthood.

With the current EU Trust Funds (EUTF) for Africa entering in its last stage, Plan International together with other peer INGOs came together on 17th December to have an exchange with the respective EU Trust Fund for Africa teams in the European Commission on possible strategies for job creation for youth and women economic empowerment. Building on lessons learned from current Trust Fund Interventions, especially in fragile contexts, they reiterated the need to focus on those most marginalised to ensure lasting impact.

Plan International’s Benjamin Anoufa, Youth Economic Empowerment in Emergencies Specialist, participated as a speaker and presented the federation’s approach to job creation for young people and young women based on programs in Ethiopia, the Middle East and Uganda. Four out of five young people are women and 85% of youth live in lower income countries and fragile states. In such context creating job opportunities requires a gender transformative approach, to address the gendered barriers and to tackle gender-based violence whilst ensuring access to education and possibilities to enhance one’s skills.

Sandra Kramer, Director EU-AU relations, East and West Africa Unit in the European Commission, highlighted that Africa in general, and job creation to younger generations in particular, is the top priority for the new Commission. Therefore, EU-Africa partnerships will include portfolios like trade and investments in order to move beyond the traditional Official Development Assistance (ODA) approaches.