The Evidence Symposium will focus on three streams.  We will apply a gender lens to all our discussions, and dedicate time to explore the specific challenges faced by vulnerable and marginalised youth.

Please click here for the evidence, the presentations, the recommendations from each of the streams.

Adolescents and Youth Engagement and Participation: 


Young people feel disenfranchised regarding opportunities for meaningful participation at local government level and lack of political decision-making power.

  • There is a prevailing sense of disillusionment among young people who had placed hopes in the Arab Spring and the associated revolutions but who now feel deliberately side-lined, marginalized and ineffectual with regards to public participation.
  • Across the MENA, young people express frustration at not being taken seriously within community and local governance decision-making and for being marginalized.
  • Young people in the region feel that they are viewed as too inexperienced to influence the right decisions in societal and political spheres.
  • A sense of disillusionment in political systems prevails among young people in the region. The express wanting to see improved investment in young people (i.e. extending services to youth in rural areas, improving youth-focused urban development, increasing gender-sensitive as well as progressive economic or educational opportunities in government for ALL youth, without discrimination through nepotism or wasta.)




Youth unemployment and socio-economic exclusion is a major challenge for young people in the MENA region.

  • For many, completion of formal education proved impossible or hard to attain, and those with relevant secondary or tertiary qualifications are often excluded from the labor market by widespread practices of nepotism in the form of wasta.
  • Young people employed are constantly striving for “better jobs” that match their skill sets or qualifications, pay market related wages or offer better working conditions.
  • As access to decent work is a challenge across the region, many vulnerable young people and adolescents are forced to tolerate exploitative conditions in an attempt to achieve financial independence or contribute to the financial support of their households.
  • Finding decent work represents for adolescents and youth the possibility of asset development, independence and a means to realizing adult life goals.


“We are in school but we do not like to be there because we feel bombarded by knowledge that does not relate in any way to reality”

15-year-old in Tunisia, on skills mismatch between education content and job opportunities.




Children and young people have a right to be protected from all forms of violence inflicted upon them by anyone in their lives.

  • Violence, exploitation and abuse affect adolescents in the region regardless of their status, wealth, and whether they live in conflict-affected countries or not. This violence is often as UNICEF states “Hidden in Plain Sight”.
  • Violence undermines their sense of self-worth, affronts their dignity and hinders their development. Yet, violence against adolescents and children is often justified as necessary or inevitable.
  • Bullying is experienced on a regular basis by close to 130 million students aged 13 to 15 worldwide.
  • Although girls and boys are at risk of sexual violence at any age, girls become particularly vulnerable to it after puberty. According to UNICEF, in 20 countries with comparable data, nearly 9 out of 10 adolescent girls who experienced forced sex said this happened for the first time between the ages of 10 and 19.
  • Young people are at particular risk of suffering violent deaths. In 2015 alone, there were around 119,000 violent deaths among those below the age of 20. Older adolescents, aged 15 to 19, are at particular risk: they are three times more likely to die violently than younger adolescents aged 10 to 14.
  • Conflicts, civil unrest and insurrections kill more adolescents in the MENA than in all other regions combined. Only 6 per cent of the world’s adolescents live in the region, yet it accounts for more than 70 per cent of the world’s adolescent deaths from collective violence.