Shoko Nakatomi served as a UN Volunteer Youth and Adolescent Development Officer with UNICEF in Jordan under the Human Resource Development Programme for Peacebuilding and Development (HRD). Her assignment was fully funded by Japan. Shoko was primarily responsible for managing, monitoring and delivering the results of the National Youth Engagement and Volunteering Movement programme for one million Jordanian and Syrian refugee youth.
Despite high enrollment rates in formal education, youth (aged 15-24) unemployment in Jordan is 37.4 per cent, more than double the world average. Unemployment of young Jordanian women is even greater. Jordan is one of the countries worldwide with the lowest levels of female participation in the workforce, with 40 per cent of women aged 15-24 and 55 per cent of women aged 25-39 unemployed.
Young people, especially those most vulnerable, including refugees and females, have limited opportunity to engage in their local communities. Continually cited as a valuable means to developing soft skills such as networking, social interaction and interpersonal skills, civic and social engagement through volunteering, is a valuable pathway to facilitating greater employability of marginal and vulnerable groups.
Shoko Nakatomi, HRD-UNV with UNICEF in Jordan was appointed Youth and Adolescent Development Officer with UNICEF in Jordan. Shoko was primarily responsible for managing, monitoring and delivering results of the National Youth Engagement and Volunteering Movement (Nahno) programme for 1,000,000 Jordanian and Syrian Refugee Youth.
Launched in December 2018, the Nahno programme enables all youth to access to opportunities for civic engagement through volunteering and youth-led initiative. It ensures the most vulnerable young people, especially females and youth with disabilities, have opportunities to engage irrespective of their background. Volunteering is becoming a more common and familiar component of this approach.
Among young people, volunteering is now considered a crucial step to enhancing their employability. It offers skills and practical experience, equipping them with vital knowledge before job hunting. Historically, volunteering was something only for charity and humanitarian assistance to the poor. Now, youth have a changed understanding of volunteering and consider it a chance to develop their skills and explore new worlds. --Shoko Nakatomi, Youth and Adolescent Development Officer with UNICEF, Jordan
Shoko worked with the Ministry of Youth and local NGOs (implementation partners) as well as young people. Shoko supported capacity building of ministry of youth centers in local communities and helped improve the quality of service delivery and skills to organize meaningful opportunities for young people.
"Under this programme, more than 22,000 young people in Jordan signed-up for the Nahno platform in 2019. There, they were able to find volunteering opportunities based on their interests and get support for implementing youth-led initiatives," Shoko says.
"Importantly, 64 per cent of beneficiaries of the programme were female. To include more young females living in conservative communities into the programme, we promoted girls’ leadership in the communities and discussed with the Ministry the potential to devote more financial resources and technical support to female youth centers," explained Shoko.
Ultimately, Shoko says the Ministry of Youth and local NGOs understand the importance of young peoples’ civic engagement and the importance of volunteering. Despite that, protecting the longevity of the program is important.
"They have many priorities but very limited financial resources so ensuring the programme continues to be funded is vital.
Shoko gained great experience and left a legacy through her assignment.
I deepened my knowledge on young people in humanitarian context, such as refugee youth in camps and host communities and better understanding of social cohesion programmes which promote inclusion of refugees and minority groups. I am proud of the fact I contributed to capacity building of local youth centers. Now most of them have their own ideas for hosting volunteering activities and support youth civic engagement. --Shoko Nakatomi
Shoko’s assignment contributed to SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
This article was prepared with the kind support of Online Volunteer Helen Maccan.