Barcelona, 21 May 2015 – The Union for the Mediterranean organized in Barcelona the second international Conference on Women’s Participation in Economic life. Opened by the Minister of Women and Family Affairs of Tunisia, Ms. Samira Merai Friia, and closed by the President of the Anna Lindh Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, Ms. Elisabeth Guigou, together with M. Fathallah Sijilmassi, Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean, the conference brought together more than 250 experts and policymakers, international and national organizations, donors and banks, civil society and project promoters, to discuss and explore the best ways to promote women empowerment and reduce the gender gap in economic participation of women in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
Over the 3 days, participants debated on how to overcome the main obstacles that hinder the full economic participation of women, and the solutions to reinforce synergies and coordination between actors across the region. They shared experiences and best practices and made recommendations on how to concretely promote inclusive growth and gender equality in the region. These include relevant public policies, regulatory mechanisms and an enabling environment to fully implement all women rights, combat violence and discriminations and foster equal economic participation. Some tools and mechanisms were identified by participants such as the “Gender sensitive budgeting”, improved access to finance, education and training programmes, increased availability of gender sensitive data and indicators.
Three thematic workshops allowed participants to elaborate recommendations for increasing employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for women in innovative sectors such as social and solidarity economy; “green economy” and ICT. A fourth workshop highlighted the key role that can be played by Media to improve the image of women’s role in economy.
The Secretary General Mr. Fathallah Sijilmassi confirmed “the Union for the Mediterranean’s commitment to maintain gender equality as a priority going forward”. “Gender equality is a regional matter, and calls for a regional response. We all have the duty to act, and to act efficiently”.
“Increasing the role of women in the society is a question of human rights, a question of social and economic inclusive development, and a question of stability and security” said Delphine Borione, Deputy Secretary General Social Affairs and Civil Protection in the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean.
The Conference was the occasion to launch the first “Regional Dialogue on women empowerment” involving UfM countries and regional and international stakeholders, including civil society organisations of the region to concretely work on the implementation of the Paris Ministerial commitments, in the field of participation of women in economic life, combat against violence, women leadership and change of stereotypes.
During the Conference, the UfM presented several concrete projects and initiatives. Two projects were officially launched: “Developing Women Empowerment” promoted by the “Euro Mediterranean Women Fondation” and “ Forming Responsible citizen” promoted by Ideaborn.
Up to May 2015, the Secretariat is mobilizing over 1,000 key stakeholders through the UfM regional platform. It has developed 10 projects exclusively focusing on women empowerment or integrating a strong gender component, reaching 50,000 beneficiaries from 20 countries. One of the beneficiary of a UFM project “Young women as job creators”, Ms. Soukeina El Bouj, highlighted : “This project gave us the chance to think as a professional business developer, not as a university student. We put our first step on the right track thanks to the opportunity of being in touch with professional women who have their own companies now” she said.