Cairo, Egypt: Egypt was the first country in the region to sign today a project agreement with the United Nations (UN) to expand opportunities for Egyptian youth in the area of volunteerism.  H.E. Dr Ossama Yassin, Minister of State for Youth, signed the agreement in the presence of UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt Ms Anita Nirody, and discussed ongoing UN activities in support of youth development, in a ceremony at the Civic Education Centre in Cairo.

Mr Richard Dictus, Executive Coordinator said, “The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme welcomes Egypt’s commitment to creating an enabling environment for youth volunteerism in Egypt.  The ‘Arab Youth Volunteering for a Better Future’ project seeks to empower youth to participate meaningfully in socio-economic development through volunteer engagement, and we look forward to working with the Ministry of State for Youth, civil society organizations and other UN agencies to achieve those goals.”

Led by UNV’s Regional Programme, the project, entitled: “Arab Youth Volunteering for a Better Future” aims to harness the power and energy of youth through volunteerism, drawing on the inherent core values of self-help, solidarity and social cohesion. The project, which will be implemented in five countries: Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen, will strengthen the infrastructure necessary to build the skills and capacities of youth in the region.  It will develop means to improve youth integration in the socio-economic development of their countries and enhance their active participation in their societies.

The project will be implemented over a three years period, during which its achievements will be assessed for replication and expansion to other countries across the Arab region.

“Egypt’s young people represent one third of the country’s population – investing in their capabilities and assets will be essential for development,” Ms Nirody said. “With its focus on promoting volunteerism for development, this regional programme will complement youth activities and initiatives supported by UN agencies such as UNDP, UNICEF, UN WOMEN and others,” she added.

For example, the UN supports youth-friendly clinics and the National Campaign for Literacy and the Renaissance of Egypt. It has also launched several economic empowerment projects, such as “Mushwary” which provided career guidance, training and small and medium enterprise (SME) establishment for 45,000 youths aged 13 to 24, in 10 governorates across Egypt; as well as the Effective School to Work Transition through Career Guidance Project which has provided employment opportunities for 5,000 youth from five governorates, and will soon provide 10,000 more. The regional programme “Arab Youth Volunteering” will complement these ongoing efforts.