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AMIDEAST, ILO Launch Employability Skills Initiative for Women in Egypt
ILO Director Peter Van Rooij(seated, center) and Shahinaz Ahmed, AMIDEAST country director for Egypt (right), listen to graduates during the graduation ceremony of the pilot ILO-funded Women@Work program in June 2015.

  Women@Work program aims to help 200 women secure decent work.

Washington, DC, September 21, 2015—AMIDEAST is pleased to have been selected by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to implement an employability skills training program for recent female graduates of public universities in Egypt. The ILO-funded program, which will be called Women@Work, will provide 200 unemployed women ages 21 to 26 with transferable skills that will enhance their job prospects and ability to find decent work.

"The program made me believe more in myself and my abilities," said Rehab Adel, a participant in the pilot Women@Work program.

The program’s focus on women is important. Both young women and men in Egypt face great challenges to finding decent employment, a clearly defined universal and indivisible objective, based on fundamental values and principles. However, the unemployment rate for Egyptian women is almost three times that of men, according to recent government data.  

The program will be offered by AMIDEAST’s offices in Cairo and Alexandria over an eight-week period beginning this fall. Participants will receive intensive training in workplace English and computer and other core skills valued in the workplace. They will also benefit from sessions dedicated to career development, as well as efforts by AMIDEAST and the ILO to engage the private sector to link participants with decent jobs.

In addition, the women will be prepared to share their job-entry skills with younger women in their communities. During the course of their training, each participant will design a 12 -hour training module that they will deliver to underprivileged teenaged girls in groups of two and three.  In this way, the program will benefit as many as 2,000 women.

“We are grateful to the ILO for its support of our efforts to assist Egyptian women who seek workplace opportunities,” AMIDEAST President and CEO Theodore H. Kattouf said.  “Women in Egypt, as elsewhere in the world, wish to participate in the workforce in order to achieve personal career goals and benefit their families and society.”

“The ILO is an organization that works all around the world to promote what we call Decent Work—decent work for all,” Peter Van Rooij, ILO Director, said. “We have been in Egypt for many years, supporting the country’s efforts to realize decent work for all Egyptians. It is very important to us that we make sure that men and women have opportunities to get jobs in the first place, and to have decent jobs.”

Women@Work  was piloted by AMIDEAST in Cairo earlier this year. As evidence of its success, 82 percent of the participants found employment within three months of the program’s completion.  Rehab Adel, who accepted her first job offer three weeks after the program ended and now hopes to pursue a master’s degree in business administration, concludes, “The program made me believe more in myself and my capabilities.” Another participant, Mary Vector, likewise credits the program with helping her find employment: “I advise all women in Egypt to join this program. It will not only improve their skills, it will change their lives.”

The Women@Work program is based on AMIDEAST’s Skills for Success® curriculum, which is designed to improve the job entry prospects of high school and university graduates in the Middle East and North Africa. Through targeted skills training, it is enabling job seekers to overcome the skills mismatch that underlies the region’s high rates of youth unemployment in order to enter and succeed in the region’s competitive job markets.  Skills for Success was piloted in Egypt during 2012 with funding from the Boeing Company and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Currently a two-year program endorsed by the Union for the Mediterranean is benefiting 450 unemployed  female secondary school graduates in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia.