I am passionate about youth employment activities, and people who know me very well, they know that I was always dreaming about being the Minister of Youth and Sports. Maybe it was started as a joke, but that’s what I have been doing for my whole career.
When I was working as an employment officer in one of the international organizations back home, my goal was obviously decreasing the unemployment rate in Gaza especially among youth whether through internships, microgrants for startups, or capacity building through ICT training courses. After more than four years, I didn’t see any positive change on the community level despite that this program was part of a big sponsorship of $100M. I decided to leave Gaza and come back with an initiative tackling the unemployment issue through finding jobs online. It falls under goal #8 of decent work and economic growth. My initiative was part of so many projects that addressed the same issue whether through online freelancing or entrepreneurship. However, Gaza is still trapped in the same routine and the same struggle.
Last week, I had the privilege of participating in One Young World Summit in the Hague, Netherlands, the city of peace and justice. I met people from 190+ countries. I was happy to get the chance to speak about the everyday life of Gazans, this life that didn’t change since I was working as an employment officer. So many leaders and celebrities attended the summit like “Queen Máxima” of the Netherlands. She announced the opening of the summit in front of the Peace Palace, an international law administrative building that houses the international courts of Justice. I felt that this summit is bigger than I ever thought it would be. I felt I am lucky to be part of such tremendous experience and huge network around the world. However, with talking about international law and the city of peace and justice, I see no justice in Palestine as well as no peace. By listening to all these leaders about being the change, I see my peers in Palestine struggle to make any change and they most of the time fail to achieve any due to daily political conflict.
While I was participating in a workshop lead by the policy coordinator at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I talked to him in person and he was very open to listen and to understand our challenges. As I was presenting the challenges in the developing countries that encounter female entrepreneurs, I can see that the majority of Palestinian women, in Gaza at least, have the tools, equipment, well educated, engaged in their community, and have brilliant ideas. However, they lack to be engaged in the international community; they don’t have access to international resources, they are restricted to move outside Gaza, restricted to leverage their business to international level, they face restrictions and challenges to receive money online. I also think they need to be more open to the outside world and escape the jail of Gaza to explore how people think, to learn how other entrepreneurs compete, and to leverage their understanding to the international market.
By living in the U.S. and by engaging in so many experiences, I can see the world is speeding up and change rapidly around me, and I am afraid that we, in Gaza, will be left behind. I see a lot of youth energy wasted in fixing conflict consequences resulting from Palestinian-Israeli conflict or Palestinian-Palestinian conflict, which hinders any progress towards development. Others chose to escape the jail of Gaza.
Unemployed youth leads to more conflict and conflict results in more youth with no jobs. The only win-win agreement is to prevail peace in the region, and it is not a genius conclusion. However, an immediate action should be taken to stop war and to stop supporting any party involved in this war.