Over 70 per cent of Somalia’s population is under the age of 30.
Empowering youth for peace and development, reveals that although the majority of Somali youth believe they have a right to be educated and a right to decent work, they feel disempowered by multiple structural barriers built into the family, institutions, local government and society, creating in them a high level of frustration.
The educational and training needs of youth (in order to gain legitimate employment) are often not being met due to weak external efficiencies and non-alignment of skills development to local and traditional job markets and livelihood opportunities.
General unemployment levels in Somalia are estimated to be 54 per cent while youth unemployment stands at 67 per cent – one of the highest rates in the world. Only 45 per cent of youth can read and write (49 per cent male, 41 per cent female), 69 per cent of youth are not currently enrolled in school.
This is exacerbated by nomadic populations migrating to urban centres. Additionally, nearly 46 per cent of youth reside in urban areas. As a result, recent reports suggest that young people who are socially excluded may turn to ‘alternative’ income generating activities, including petty theft, organised crime or joining extremist groups. Supporting the social and economic inclusion of young
people through conflict-sensitive alternative education/vocational training programmes is thus important for consolidating state-building efforts to support sustainable peace and development.
Women and girls make up about 50% of the Somali population and the gross inequalities and inhuman conditions they endure both as a result of the conflict, and in general, is a key factor contributing to Somalia’s extremely poor human development index.
The situation of Somali women is particularly dire and presents real concerns for their fair treatment, access to justice and overall human rights protection. Of the 1.5 million people that are currently displaced, 600,000 are women of reproductive
age and more than 80% of them have no access to safe maternal delivery (ICRC 2009). Many of the displaced women are widows and heads of households with hardly any access to property, health care and education. Somalia’s maternal mortality rates are amongst the highest in the world, at 1,400 per 100,000 live births. Early marriages and teenage pregnancies are common; 45% of women now aged 20- 24 were married by the age of 18 or younger (ICRC 2009). Girls who get married or give birth at a young age have a greater vulnerability to violence and health risks. 65% of women between the ages of 15-64 participate in the domestic hard labor force. Somalia was recently ranked the fifth most dangerous
country in the world for a woman1
NI plans to help empower Youth/Women through education training programs, microfinance programs, cash for work programs, provide technical skills on fishery, nursing, teaching and mental health counseling.