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Youth Engagement

Global Communities continues to work closely with communities on the ground to help mitigate the effects of limited employment opportunities and an unstable economy, and the harsh effects both have on young people in particular. Its programs are targeted to the needs and circumstances experienced by youth, and are developed with long-term solutions at the forefront, ensuring immediate employment but also job security in the long run.

As part of our ongoing commitment to youth, Global Communities works to 1) improve youth employment, 2) increase youth participation in local governance and 3) improve youth access to education and developmental opportunities through construction of child friendly primary school, secondary schools, and community centers.

I. Employment

Engineering Fellows Program

One such program is the Engineering Fellows Program, funded by USAID and implemented in partnership with the Engineering Association Jerusalem Center (EAJC). The program provides recently graduated engineers with hands-on, paid work experience to enable them to develop their workplace skills, while also building local capacity and promoting best practices for implementation of labor-intensive infrastructure projects designed to revitalize the local economy.

Fellows are employed for up to one year working in a range of capabilities including site supervision, assistance to local government engineering offices in design preparation, quality control/assurance, review of designs and specifications and basic design production. They are also mentored by Global Communities and EAJC staff, and develop individual work plans tailored to their professional goals. Regular workshops also provide fellows with relevant topics in the engineering and development fields, such as safety, construction management, quality control and use of construction-related software. To date, nearly 200 engineers have completed the program and about 90% of participants have secured long-term employment.

II. Participation in Local Governance

Youth Local Councils

Though youth constitute an overwhelming majority in the West Bank & Gaza (65% of the population is between 13-38 years old), there have been few opportunities for them to engage in community affairs and local governance. Global Communities piloted the Youth Local Councils (YLC) initiative in four communities in 2008 in partnership with a local organization, Al-Mawrid, with funding from USAID. The initiative now continues through a partnership with Sharek Youth Forum (begun in 2010 through the Local Democratic Reform program and now continuing through the Local Government & Infrastructure program, both funded by USAID).

YLC’s are democratically elected bodies made up of 11-15 members aged 15-22. The council mirrors the elected LGU in size and formation. Working in partnership with the municipality, the purpose of the YLC is to sensitize youth to good governance practices and give them an opportunity to take a leadership role in their community. They do not represent political parties, but they serve as elected representatives with a direct democratic mandate to give young people a voice and to serve the interests of youth.

As of February 2014, the initiative is now operating in 19 municipalities, and has reached, to date, more than 10,000 Palestinian youth who - through 31 certified elections - brought to office about 400 Youth Local Council leaders. 

Basha’er Othman, Youth Local Council former President from Illar, served as Minister of Local Government for one day on 22 August following her recent appointment by Minister Sa’ed Al-Koni. On her day as Minister, Basha-er said her top orders of business were to continue the work she has done in her capacity as YLC President by: bolstering support for youth in good government and democratic processes, addressing rampant youth unemployment especially among recent graduates, encouraging increased investment in Area C, and learning more about the structure of government and its regulations. Minister Sa’ed said he was delighted to have Basha’er’s one day of service and that her appointment was a sign of progress. “This just goes to show that a young Palestinian woman can play a role as an important partner in Palestine.” Basha’er has been an active member of the YLC, an initiative implemented by Global Communities as part of the USAID-funded Local Government and Infrastructure (LGI). Previously Basha’er served as acting mayor of Illar for two months when she worked directly with municipal council members and staff.

III. Access to Education and Development

In addition to engagement in many other types of infrastructure projects, Global Communities constructs and rehabilitates primary and secondary schools and youth and community centers, as part of our commitment to improving access to education for Palestinian youth. To read more about these projects, please see our Infrastructure and Construction page.