Youth can be a formidable force for development in the new Egypt
Cairo – The challenges which Egypt currently faces are not confined to achieving a smooth transition through building representative and responsive political institutions. Charting a new course for social and economic development which reduces poverty, creates decent work – including for young people, and achieves equity is also high on the agenda. This was the conclusion of a youth-oriented workshop held today under the title: "Social and Economic Challenges in Egypt: Policies required to develop the Economy and achieve Social Equity." The one-day workshop, organized by the United Nations Development Programme, brought together some fifty young Egyptian activists and a number of resource people - comprising economic experts and development practitioners.
"A few months ago, people around the world were riveted to their television screens watching Egyptians, young and old, rise up to demand their right to be heard and live in dignity. The process of change which that has brought about is remarkable," said UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark, addressing the gathering. "Today, the world is looking to your contribution not only to addressing the challenges of democratic transition, but also to building a prosperous and more equitable society."
The workshop debates focused on articulating a clear vision for tackling the challenges which Egypt faces today, considering options of effective policy responses and short- and long-term priorities, and suggesting avenues for youth and civil society participation in addressing those challenges and influencing related government policies.
Group discussions focused on five main axes, including:
- economic governance and moving from a rentier to a productive economy;
- high-return and labour intensive economic development in the context of tackling unemployment, particularly among youth;
- poverty, minimum wage and subsidy policies in the context of achieving social equity;
- reforming the education and health sectors for more effective and pro-poor services; and
- balanced socio-economic development in the context of addressing environmental challenges and regional disparities;
"Workshops like these are vital to the success of on-going efforts for national dialogue on how to shape the future. They provide young people with opportunities to engage in informed debate on key challenges, articulate their own visions about avenues for their effective participation and elaborate their own initiatives", commented Amat Al Alim Alsoswa, Director of UNDP's Regional Bureau for Arab States.
UNDP intends to organize similar workshops in Tunisia and Morocco over the coming months, and is looking at the best means of incorporating the outcomes of these youth debates in its upcoming Arab Development Challenges Report, to ensure that the voices of youth are heard by policy planners and decision makers.
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