Democratic and economic empowerment of vulnerable youth to prevent extremism in Tunisia

A new UNDEF-funded project in Tunisia works to include and economically empower vulnerable youth in the northeastern governorates of Beja, Jendouba, Kef and Siliana.  Implemented by local NGO Tamkeen For Development, it skilfully links economic empowerment and political participation for youth at risk in poverty-prone areas of the country.

The project aims to integrate youth in the country’s social fabric and democratic transition by equipping them to participate in their regions’ economic and political life, with an eye on upcoming municipal elections planned for 17 December 2017, the first such elections to be held since Tunisia’s 2011 uprising. A group of young men and women will be empowered through the project’s economic inclusion scheme, with the underlying principle that once youth are given the opportunity to become economically independent, they will gradually gain the confidence to proactively engage in civic and political life.

At a press conference in Tunis on 13 April 2017 to officially launch the project, UNDEF’s Executive Head Annika Savill highlighted the pioneering nature of the project to advance democracy and economic development hand in hand, adding that UNDEF had encouraged the creation of the project from the outset. Watch her video message here.  

The project will select 1,200 youths -- 300 from each of the four governorates -- for training in soft skills, project management, participative democracy, entrepreneurship. Of these, 200 youths will receive additional technical training in cattle breeding, after which they will be given financial support and market opportunities to launch their own income generating activity. In another innovative approach, the project will be managed through a youth-led steering committee, allowing them to exercise leadership and launch public initiatives where they can put into practice the foundations of democracy.