- Representing more than half the total population, women and young people constitute one of the greatest assets for stability and development in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
- According to recent studies, if the participation of women in the labour market equalled that of men, the regional GDP could rise by as much as 47% over the next decade. That means the region could realize an economic impact of around €490 billion annually.
- Following up on the recent UfM Ministerial Meeting on “Strengthening the role of women in society”, 2018 will witness the launch of new regional projects as well as the 4th Regional Conference on Women’s Empowerment. This conference, which will be held on 10-11 October in Lisbon, is being promoted by the UfM to foster gender equality initiatives across the region.
On this year’s International Women’s Day, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) joins the international community’s global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice. Over the last years, the UfM has put gender equality and women’s empowerment at the heart of its regional strategy and work programme, recognizing the essential contribution of women to more stable and developed societies and economies.
To this end, the UfM is promoting an action-oriented common agenda on women’s empowerment for the region, as agreed in the declaration signed by the ministers of the 43 Member States at the 4th Ministerial Meeting on Strengthening the role of women in society, held last November in Cairo.
As part of this agenda, the UfM is promoting over 25 regional projects with a specific focus on human development and a gender mainstreaming policy. It has also intensified its cooperation with all global, regional and sub-regional initiatives and organizations. For instance, the UfM Secretariat and the World Health Organization have partnered to promote and will officially launch the “Women’s Right to Health (WoRTH)” project on 5 April 2018 in Marrakech. The project aims to support UfM Member States in developing national plans that facilitate access to prevention and management services for female cancers such as cervical and breast cancer. Over 45,000 disadvantaged women (aged 25-65) are expected to be tested for cervical and breast cancer, and sensitized to the risks and the importance of prevention.
The UfM also provides a regional multi-stakeholder dialogue framework on gender equality and women’s empowerment. This holistic approach will be highlighted in the upcoming 4th edition of the UfM Regional Conference on Women’s Empowerment, set to take place on 10-11 October 2018 in Lisbon. The conference will bring together country representatives, international organisations, regional stakeholders and civil society representatives from across the Euro-Mediterranean to identify concrete pathways to strengthen the vital role of women as agents of change. It will also feature a youth forum for gender equality and will witness the launch of the “Network for Gender Equality in the Mediterranean”, a platform bringing together leading young Mediterranean women, graduates from the UfM-labelled project WOMED, to foster entrepreneurship and business opportunities as well as the launch of new ideas and initiatives. These will include publications, research and fundraising for actions in the field. A regional awareness campaign to prevent violence against women and girls is also expected to be launched by the European Commission.
“The region needs all its women and men at an equal footing to overcome the pressing challenges it currently faces. Women’s empowerment is at heart of the Euro-Mediterranean agenda because, given the right environment, women can play a key role in socio-economic development and stability. We therefore need to build stronger and more inclusive societies where all women and girls enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men,” according to Laurence Pais, UfM Deputy Secretary General for Social and Civil Affairs.
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The story of Lina Khalifeh is framed within the project “Women of the Mediterranean: the next generation of leaders (WOMED)”, promoted by the Union for the Mediterranean and implemented by the Institute for Political Studies in Paris (Science Po). The project seeks to promote the empowerment and leadership capacities of women in the region through training, advisory and networking activities.