Innovative Public Works Programmes – Creating jobs for young men and women

Iman Sabry Yakoob is a 31 year old woman from the village of Wakf, governate of Qena in southern Egypt.
Iman Sabry Yakoob is a 31 year old woman from the village of Wakf, governate of Qena in southern Egypt.

Historically high, unemployment levels, especially among Egypt’s youth and women, have been on the rise even prior to the January 2011 Revolution that delivered a severe shock to the Egyptian economy. Youth unemployment tops the concerns of society and government in Egypt as the country grapples with a complex political transition.  To tackle youth unemployment, UND Egypt supports the Social Fund for Development in the implementation of Public Works Projects that are designed to target the most vulnerable and marginalized, with a special focus on youth and woman. The joint effort aims to respond to the urgent need to create jobs in social services and small scale infrastructure works, as well as to build capacities of unemployed youth in Egypt’s poorest governorates in respond to the current economic crisis.

Hilights

  • In Phase I of the project 442,537 workdays were created in labour-intensive infrastructure projects targeting mostly young men (101,376 workdays) and in social service initiatives especially targeting women (341,161 workdays, with women representing 62.3 % of those employed).
  • Target for Phase II is to create 136’000 jobs in 2013/2014
  • The programme not only provides income to the poor and vulnerable but is also providing them with durable rural infrastructure which provides the opportunity for economic and social development.

Iman Sabry Yakoob is a 31 year old woman from the village of Wakf, governate of Qena in southern Egypt. She is one of six siblings born to a local tailor and a traditional southern housewife. She has three sisters and two brothers, the two brothers work in the touristic city of Hurgada, while the three sisters are all married and housewives. Iman is the only unmarried and working girl in her family and has a Bachelor’s degree in social work. She has worked before on other social programs such as one to eradicate illiteracy and teach women of her village how to read.

Right before taking part in this UNDP program and getting this job, she spent almost a year at home unable to find employment, but after hearing about this project, she promptly applied and after going through the necessary tests and interviews, she was accepted into the program and hired for a period of 12 months. She started by being given courses and training for what she was about to do.

Asked about her experience in this program she answered “I’m very happy to be part of this program, I learned a lot and benefited a lot, including financially, I had stayed home unemployed for a year before being accepted into this program”

Iman seems to really love and enjoy what she does, she has a big sense of belonging to her community and feels that she is making a difference. “I believe we are helping out a lot. Before this program, women in the village used to feed their kids normal food before the age of 6 months but now we explained to them that they should only do that after the baby passes 6 months. Also, in some houses here kids used to live in the same rooms with birds, chickens, and animals, which caused a lot of diseases and illnesses, but now they don’t anymore because of us” said Iman.

“Many women here have also never been to hospitals or seen doctors, sometimes they were just embarrassed to go see a male doctor because of cultural misconceptions, even though in some cases their husbands would actually encourage them to go, but they still felt uncomfortable. What I and the other Social workers in this program do, is convince them that it’s okay, and sometimes we even book the appointments for them and accompany them to their first visit”

Iman, like many other women taking part in this program, cherishes her experience and wishes to see the program extended for more than one year. She does not only feel that she has benefited financially and educationally from this opportunity, but that she also made a difference in people’s lives.

Asked what her future wish’s and aspirations are, Iman said: “I wish this program extends to more than a year, and that we see more of it, and I also wish to see programs like this in villages all across Egypt because they really do help people, both who work and take part in them, and the mothers and women who meet the social workers”.