Angelique watches as Girls Club members make soap.
On World Youth Skills Day, we celebrate the power of transferable skills to improve the lives of countless youth all over the world. Not only does an increase in skills training for youth lead to greater personal success, but it can also lead to a stronger and healthier global economy.
Currently, young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults, and are exposed to labor market inequalities, unsafe work conditions, and insecure transitions from school to work. These problems are much more severe for girls and young women.
In sub-Saharan Africa, there is a demographic bulge where the current youth population is much larger and is growing faster than any previous generation. This has created the phenomenon of the “the demographic dividend,” which is the accelerated economic growth that may result from a change in the age structure of the population. It is crucial to consider the economic potential of the growing youth population in Africa, especially by the time this demographic bulge becomes the working-age adult population.
In 2017, the youth unemployment rate in Benin was approximately 5.19%, a number that has stayed fairly constant since 2011. Though this is much lower than the global youth unemployment rate (13.1%), progress must be made in order to break the stagnant trend of youth unemployment in Benin.
The reach of reforms in the education system of Benin have failed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized youth. In addition, critical life and employability skills have not been integrated into Benin’s formal education system. For girls who have not been able to stay in the formal school system, acquiring the skills they need to become more economically and socially independent is imperative in order to thrive in Benin’s economy.
At Batonga, we foster this independence through our Girls Clubs. Each Girls Club manages its own small business- such as making soaps, selling cakes and candies, or even harnessing solar energy to create sustainable phone-charging stations in their communities! We believe that entrepreneurship is at the heart of what World Youth Skills Day stands for, and we are committed to promoting a more equitable economy in Benin where women and girls have the ability to create change.
From all of us at Batonga, Happy World Youth Skills Day! If you would like to help us create a generation of skilled youth in Benin, please donate here: https://batongafoundation.org/get-involved/