Meet the Tunisian trailblazer who’s providing job opportunities for young women
Naouel Ghali - Monastir, Tunisia
Global Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth
In Tunisia, it’s harder to find work as a woman. However, Girl Scout leader Naouel Ghali, 30, is determined to change that mind-set through the Future Leaders of the World project. The ground-breaking project is providing entrepreneurial skills to girls across the country so they can take matters into their own hands and build their own businesses.
“In Tunisia, many people believe women should stay at home and look after their children rather than go to work,” says Naouel Ghali. “Even if you’ve been to school and completed a degree, it can still be hard to get a job.”
According to Naouel, unemployment increased after the Tunisian revolution in 2011 and it had a bigger impact on women, than on men. Statistics from The World Bank reveal 50 per cent of girls in rural Tunisia and 30 per cent in urban areas are not in education, employment or training.
“It’s definitely harder to find work as a woman, despite the fact there’s more women attending university. But if women are unable to find jobs afterwards, what’s the point? We need to create conditions that allow people to have quality jobs.”
As a Girl Scout leader in Tunisia, Naouel felt compelled to do her part to ensure girls could seek employment once they graduated. In a joint venture with the YMCA Scouts in Denmark, Naouel and her team developed the project, Future Leaders of the World.
“This project is designed to empower young people with the skills and competencies to set up their own business, which will lead to self-employment as well as creating jobs for others,” says Naouel.
The project was opened to Scouts and non-Scouts, male and female, from across Tunisia, with a target age range of 18-35. In total, 840 young people took part and were taught how to write business plans and meet with investors. As young people complete the training, continued support is offered.
“The training concluded in December 2015, and it’s heartening to see many young people setting up their own businesses, creating employment for themselves and others,” reveals Naouel.
Naouel is proud of the project and the impact it’s having on young women in Tunisia.
“We’ve given these young people self-belief and boosted their self-esteem. After the training, they felt confident they could bring new ideas to the table and make them a reality. It’s the first step to starting your own business.”
There have been several success stories so far, including that of 27-year-old Henda.
“I am really proud of Henda,” says Naouel. “After she finished her training, she decided to start a nursery. Now she employs three people and looks after 18 children. Henda told me how the training boosted her self-esteem and how it gave her the belief that she could start her own business. She felt Girl Scout leaders were best placed to give this training.”
Naouel has been a Girl Scout since she was nine, which has helped her develop her own leadership skills. Now a district commissioner for the organization in Tunisia, Naouel leads projects in her spare time. Her motivation? Fighting for girls’ rights and achieving gender equality.
“Girls and women deserve the chance and the opportunity to put their skills and knowledge to good use, so they can enjoy a better standard of living. Women can be entrepreneurs too.”
Naouel’s work ties in with Global Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth. Launched a year ago, the Global Goals are a series of ambitious targets to end extreme poverty, tackle climate change and combat all forms of inequality.
“The Global Goals are important as it means a better life is achievable for girls and women across the world. In Tunisia, there aren’t many female managers. We don’t have the opportunity to be decision-makers. As a woman, you have to go above and beyond to prove yourself, even if a man is less capable. But, if girls and women take small actions, and we multiply them by a lot of people, we can get the change we are seeking.”
Through her work with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, Naouel has come to realise change is possible.
“Thanks to the Girl Scouts, I am a leader. I am a powerful, strong woman, who is full of energy and who believes we can make this world a better place for girls.”
With International Day of the Girl on the horizon, there’s never been a better time to shout about the importance of girls’ rights for Naouel and her team.
“Evidence shows when girls’ voices are not heard, it works against us. Our concerns never reach the top of the political agenda. Girls know what’s best for them and they have the solutions to their own problems. The International Day of the Girl will help to raise public awareness about the inequalities girls face in Tunisia. Girls deserve an education and they deserve the freedom to make their own choices. It’s not up to adults to tell them what to do - it’s up to us to help girls make the best decision they can.”
Girls like Naouel around the world are working on projects to change their worlds, one step at a time.
Make a start on your own project to make a change in your community with the #TeamGirl challenge.
Projects like this one in Tunisia would not be possible without the support you can provide. Join #TeamGirl and help fund the change.