Gender mainstreaming in youth related activities in Lebanon
Effective youth participation in drawing national policies is regarded by UNESCO as an essential cornerstone in building a sustainable and inclusive future. With youth constituting up to more than half of the total population in much of the challenged Arab region, UNESCO is keen on dedicating considerable efforts towards youth empowerment and education, and their inclusion in decision making processes.
Within the framework of its NET-MED Youth Project, funded by European Union (EU), UNESCO Beirut Office in cooperation with British Council organized from 8 to 11 January 2015 a training workshop in the Lebanese capital aiming to develop the capacity of local NGOs in mainstreaming gender into youth-led advocacy in social cohesion in Lebanon.
22 young officers from more than 12 national NGOs working in Lebanon, particularly in social cohesion and community development and related fields participated in this workshop. Over 4 days, those officers participated in several sessions conducted by international experts from the British Council, the National Commission for Lebanese Women, the Youth Forum and ABAAD the during which they were introduced to the various tools, relevant policy frameworks related to gender equality and youth empowerement, good practices and methodologies generally applied in mainstreaming gender in civil society and communitarian activity.
Seiko Sugita, Programme specialist in Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO Beirut emphasized the importance of engendering youth policy process as a unique opportunity to advance gender equality in Lebanon.
Elie Gemayel, Programme Manager at the British Council, confirmed that the British Council is "pleased to organize this training as it comes in the heart of our strategy in developing capacities of youth in Lebanon. It is essential that we equip youth and especially organizations working with youth with knowledge about gender concepts to introduce it in their daily work and programmes to reach a more inclusive world".
Mr. Gemayel added that "this training also provides youth with skills and techniques to design and implement community based projects to encourage youth participation with a focus on gender equality".
Mona Hassouna, the trainer of the workshop stated: “The importance of this workshop is giving youth led NGOs a new lense to look at community which is the gender lense and providing them with practical tools to transform this into practices, attitudes and approaches within their NGOs and in community.”
Nivine Ali, a participant stated: “It all got cleared to me why they put sex on the passport and not gender.” Zakaria El Baba: I now know the difference between gender and sex, the difference between men and women don’t differ a lot.
The workshop comes after launching the NET-MED project last June. As part of the Southern Mediterranean countries, Lebanon shares common challenges related to the social inclusion of youth, such as high unemployment and weak labour market, lack of participation of young women, low representation in public and political spheres, disinterest in civic engagement, exclusion from mainstream media and economic marginalization. NET-MED Youth is a UNESCO-EU joint response to these issues, built on an analysis of youth aspirations and needs in each partner country from the region. Through this pioneering programme, UNESCO aims to improve the access and effective participation of youth in developing and implementing national strategies and policies affecting young women and men.
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