Invest in youth, UN report tells Turkey 28 mars 2008Posted by Acturca in Turkey / Turquie.
Tags: Human Development Report, Turkey, Turkey / Turquie, UNDP, United Nations, youth
Turkish Daily News, 22 March 2008
In Turkey there are more than 12 million people aged between 15 and 24, or 17.6 percent of the entire population, and this demographic window of opportunity can turn upside down if Turkey fails to invest in its youth, says the UN’s 2008 development report.
As the fastest growing country in the region with one of the largest and most dynamic youth populations, Turkey has 15 years to turn this window of opportunity into an advantage, suggests a United Nations report for Turkey, adding that failure to do so will upset social balances and may lead to nightmare scenarios.
“If Turkey can give the right opportunities to its youth today, invest in their education in order to prepare them for higher value-added jobs in the future, the demographic window of opportunity can be utilized effectively,” according to the 2008 Human Development Report for Turkey released Friday.
“But if this opportunity is mismanaged, unemployment, poverty and social unrest may lie ahead,” it warned.
The report “Youth in Turkey” published by the U.N. Development Program offers guidance on how employment, education and health policies for youth need to be reshaped to ensure these policies are people-oriented and better prepare the country for the upcoming demographic challenges.
The report has used an unorthodox research approach: It is to a significant extent based on a comprehensive “State of Youth Survey” which canvassed the views of 3,322 individuals aged 15-24 in 12 different regions of the country. It also included 24 focus group meetings with young people and four focus groups with adults.
In Turkey there are more than 12 million people aged between 15 and 24, or 17.6 percent of the entire population, according to the 2007 population census.
“This situation will change, however,” warned the report defining Turkey’s youth as people between 15 and 24 years of age.
“Already, the percentages of 0-14 and 0-19 year-olds are declining. By 2040, the only rising proportion of the population will belong to the 65-year-olds and above. Therefore, 2040 will mark the end of the Turkish demographic window of opportunity.”
The U.N. report called for comprehensive policies to ensure that the country has a healthy, educated and skilled society to face the challenges of crucial next 15 years and beyond.
“Such an episode is a one-off opportunity in a country’s history,” it stressed.
First a job
The favorable ratio of young to old presents opportunities as well as challenges. Unemployment is one of the challenges facing Turkey. Failure to create job opportunities especially for youth will lead to most worrying levels of high unemployment, said the report.
The unemployment rate for young people currently stands at 17-18 percent, almost twice the national average. The U.N. report revealed that in Turkey young people are twice as likely to be unemployed than the older population.
“You complete 16 years of education, go through all that but cannot find a job. How can we think straight? To do that one has to have decent living conditions. One’s stomach must be full. You cannot get a break and start producing projects and ideas to improve your country. First, one must have a job,” an unnamed secondary school graduate from Turkey’s Aegean city of Izmir was quoted as saying in the report. Nearly 40 percent of Turkish youth – almost 5 million people – are idle, neither working nor attending school, an alarming threat for the society.
Describing this group as “invisible or less visible youth,” the U.N. report said these include: Women who are neither in education nor at work at about 2.2 million; the physically handicapped are some 650,000; young people who have given up all hope and stopped seeking jobs number around 300,000; juvenile delinquents are some 22,000; and street children and youth living on the streets, internally displaced, or victims of human trafficking and others who rarely get noticed or mentioned in survey studies or in the media.
“Special attention must be paid to those youth who are currently ‘invisible’,” it said.
Being a ‘nonexistent’ young woman
The situation of adolescents in Turkey is complicated by gender disparities that still frequently reflect and emphasize the traditional preference for men and boys over women and girls, according to the report, underlining that gender discrimination has not been tackled with sufficient strength.
There is discrimination in concepts for boys and girls, it said. “The unpredictable temper of adolescents struggling with the profound physical and psychological changes typical of their age is acknowledged in young males as ‘delikanlilar’ or crazy bloods, for instance, while girls of similar age are not treated with the same understanding.”
The report said the gender gap hit education as well when significant numbers of girls drop out of school after primary education or even earlier during the first five years and emphasized that this is especially the case in low-income areas where disparities in girls and boys’ enrolment in primary education are more pronounced.
Highlighting another bitter truth of Turkey – honor killings – the report said murder in the name of honor is the most severe type of violence against women. “Turkish Police has recorded 1,091 honor killings in the last five years. And many of the honor killings are not reported to police; they are instead shown as suicide,” the report said, citing an interview with Professor Ahsen Sirin of Ege University.
Catch up with international progress
Turkey started a strong process of modernization under its founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk after 1923 but is lagging behind countries with comparable per capita income in the area of social policies, according to the report urging Turkey to catch up with international progress.
“A youth policy is important to ensure higher levels of human development, as defined by greater human choices. But it is also crucial in order to stave off potentially crushing demographic challenges.”
Of utmost importance is finalizing an employment strategy, the report said.
“Identifying the specific features, constraints, and opportunities which matter most in terms of employment creation will be crucial. Policies need to be developed in a participatory manner that builds the trust of youth in political institutions, laying the foundations for sustained human development.”