“Skills for Success gives me, as a young woman, the chance to improve my skills in life, to be more confident, and to better understand myself and other people,” said Moroccan trainee Leila Rajouh as she eagerly began her English language and computer skills classes — the first two program components, followed by professional skills and job search modules.
Although enhancing participants’ employability is the primary goal, the impact of Skills for Success is far broader, as Leila anticipates. The program, developed by AMIDEAST, is tailored to address the needs of young Arab women, who face one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, along with such obstacles as gender disparity, familial attitudes, and harassment that often inhibit their participation in the labor market.
The four-month, 320-hour program is designed to help these women overcome a variety of barriers by expanding their knowledge about job paths and employment resources, developing skills applicable to many entry-level jobs, and raising their confidence about making personal, job-related choices.
“Never has targeted training for young women been as urgent as it is now,” AMIDEAST Regional English Language Director Helena Simas said at the October 10th launch of the program in Lebanon, as she previewed the program’s core emphasis on self-development, communication skills, critical thinking, problem-solving, job readiness, and women’s empowerment in the workplace.
Simas joined AMIDEAST President and CEO Theodore H. Kattouf for the launch, which took place during a seminar organized by the UfM to draw attention to the need for economic empowerment programs targeting women in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
Speakers highlighted the very low participation rate of women and girls in vocational education and training, as well as the region’s lagging employment rates for women. Despite the gains women have made in educational attainment, factors such as gender barriers and a lack of societal support prevent women from applying their skills and competencies to become economically active, to the detriment of society, their families, and themselves.
Kattouf welcomed the UfM’s support of AMIDEAST’s Skills for Success program, which has paved the way for funding from the governments of Flanders (in Belgium) and Norway and PepsiCo, as well as from the AMIDEAST/Lebanon Advisory Board.
“The UfM’s endorsement was critical in enabling us to scale up a training program that highlights our capabilities to target an extremely important goal for the region: the empowerment of young women graduates who are eager for the opportunities that stem from employment — not just to achieve a higher standard of living for themselves and their families, but to become more fully engaged in their societies’ development.”