Somalia has one of the youngest populations in the world: it is estimated that 83% of Somalis are under the age of 35, with 38% aged between 15 and 35 years old . The youth unemployment rate in Somalia is amongst the highest in the world – back in 2012 it was estimated at 67% among 14 to 29 year olds . For many young people in Somalia today, whose lives have been shaped by a quarter of a century of violent turmoil, the prospect of finding work and creating a better life – for themselves and their families – remains out of reach. As a result, Somali youth, like youth all over the world, often become the focus of public attention for the wrong reasons.
The international community has regularly called for more to be done for Somali youth. But perhaps this is the wrong starting point. Instead, shouldn’t we be placing more emphasis on the central role that youth themselves play in shaping their own present and future? Rather than asking what can be done for them, we should be giving young people the space to lead and to create their own opportunities.
The Somalia Stability Fund has tried to bring this ethos into our youth programming, by actively supporting investments which put young people in the driving seat. We’ve captured some of the best examples in this edition of our newsletter. Whether it’s about supporting platforms for young people to discuss and debate issues that affect them, giving youth a chance to learn new skills and earn a decent daily wage, or offering them higher education opportunities, or internships abroad, the Stability Fund is helping young people to take steps to change their own lives. We look forward to hearing your feedback on these examples!