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Jobless rate higher among youth: UNFPA

“Given that young people don’t have sufficient employment opportunities then frustration can lead to social, political, economic tensions, and instability in Afghanistan,”— Dr Annette Sachs Robertson

By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in collaboration with Ministry of Information and Culture released a report about importance of investing in youth and realization of demographic dividend in Afghanistan.

Speaking at the joint press conference on Sunday, representative of the UNFPA, Dr Annette Sachs Robertson, said that four million young people would join the Afghan working age population in the next five years.

She said that so far the unemployment rate for young men is 18 percent and for young women almost 19 percent in Afghanistan, adding that these are significantly higher than national unemployment rate—10 percent.

She underlined that if young people don’t have sufficient employment opportunities then frustration may generate social tension and instability in Afghanistan.

She said that the report articulates three key recommendations to Afghan government to seek effective ways for youth’s problem in the future.

“First, girls need to be empowered, secondly investments in education need to be increase, thirdly, successful employment plans for young people need to be put in place,” she said.

According to her, the fertility rate has decreased from 6.3 to 5.1 in the last ten years and the use of family planning methods has increased. “Currently, 20 percent of married women use modern contraceptive methods. This demonstrates how Afghan couples are enjoying their rights to plan their families,” she pointed out.

The report analysis the Central Statistic Organization of Afghanistan and the UN data and illustrate how the age composition of Afghan population is changing. It highlights the economic benefit that could arise when population has relatively large proportion of working age people and sufficient investment is made in their empowerment.

Minister of Economy, Abdul Sattar Murad, said that annually around 400,000 up to 500,000 qualified youth search for jobs in Afghanistan.

He said that continuation of such trend is dangerous and challengeable for stability of the country in the short term, adding that if the government sufficiently utilize this workforce in different fields, it could be effective for economic growth in the long term.

He underlined that 26 percent of total young workforce is unemployed and poverty rate is 36 percent in the country.

He said that Afghanistan is the second country of the world where 46.1 percent of population is below the age of 15.

“Among 7.2 million people in Afghanistan, 19 percent have job security and 81 percent are vulnerable and haunted by job insecurity. About 80 percent of the employees work in public administration,” he said.

Minister of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled, Nasrin Oryakhil, on the occasion claimed that insecurities affected the job market and forced many young people to seek jobs in foreign countries.

The UNFPA stressed that Afghan economic growth depends on the young workforce and asked the government to make comprehensive plans in this regard.

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