Young Women Building Their Future Project targets the high share of young women who are not in employment, education or training
İstanbul, 23 February 2022 – A new initiative aims to improve the prospects for young women in Turkey who currently remain outside the labor market and are not acquiring the skills they would need to find decent work.
The new project, “Young Women Building Their Future,” focuses on understanding and addressing the challenges faced by the estimated 3.5 million young women in Turkey who are not in employment, education or training (NEET). The initiative is implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Sabancı Foundation in cooperation with the Ministry of Family and Social Services and the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.
Derya Yanık Minister of Family and Social Services, Nurcan Önder Director-General of Labor at the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, Nevgül Bilsel Safkan General Manager of Sabancı Foundation and Louisa Vinton UNDP Resident Representative participated in launch event and presented the roadmap of the initiative.
“Turkey currently has a demographic window of opportunity,” said Derya Yanık, Minister of Family and Social Services. “But to take full advantage of the youthfulness of our population, we need to ensure that young people have better skills and are fully active in the labor market. The project that we are launching today will help us meet this challenge by attracting young women who remain outside the workforce to opportunities for education and employment.”
Nurcan Önder, Director-General of Labor at the Ministry of Labor and Social Security said “The young population in Turkey who are not in education and workforce have human capital potential waiting to be participated in the labor market. Supporting young women's access to employment opportunities is essential for increasing female labor force participation and employment rates in Turkey and sustainable development. The Young Women Building Their Future Project will empower women both in business and social life, and strengthen their position.”
The NEET category is a worry for any country, given that young people who remain outside the workforce face a high risk of social exclusion and lack the skills they need to escape poverty. In Turkey, the NEET share overall among young people aged 18-29 is 34.7 percent, but women are more affected, at 50.5 percent, against 24.4 percent for men in the same age group.
“Turkey has the second-highest rate of NEET young people among all OECD countries,” said Nevgül Bilsel Safkan, General Manager of Sabanci Foundation. “This is a huge number of people without jobs or the skills they might need to find employment, and thus facing a bleak future without secure livelihoods. Drawing on two years of research and analysis, Sabancı Foundation has come to view NEET women as a top-priority social challenge for Turkey, and we are pleased to be joined by our partners in a shared resolve to find workable solutions.”
“The core philosophy of the Sustainable Development Goals is ‘to leave no one behind,’” said UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton. “NEET women are one of the groups we see as most at risk of being left behind. But we are also confident that we can find solutions to ensure that Turkish society benefits from the vast potential that this large group of women represents.”
The new initiative will focus on two distinct groups: "invisible" and "reachable" women. “Invisible” NEET women are those who have left the job market entirely, so here the project will focus on making their needs and preferences more visible to policy makers and employers. At the same time, measures will be designed and tested to provide “reachable” NEET women, those who still want employment, with the information, training and support they need.
The project will be implemented in 11 pilot provinces: Adana, Ankara, Bursa, Erzurum, Diyarbakır, İstanbul, İzmir, Konya, Mardin, Trabzon and Van. To determine the needs and develop an action plan, a baseline study and needs assessment will be carried out in Adana, Diyarbakır and İzmir. Based on the analysis, vocational training will be provided to enable NEET women to improve their employability, and counselling and mentoring will be provided.
NEET women will also have access to a new digital portal, “Opportunities Map,” where they will find training, internship employment opportunities, as well as modules on mentoring and online training. The portal will go live in May 2022 and will act as a bridge between the private sector, civil society and public institutions on opportunities for NEET women. Grants will be provided to non-governmental organizations in 11 pilot provinces to support project activities.
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