• The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), in partnership with the Portuguese Republic, organised the fourth edition of the regional conference on women’s empowerment in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
• In the presence of the President of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, more than 350 participants including ministers, international experts and prominent actors of civil society and the private sector attended the conference, which coincided with the tenth anniversary of the UfM.
• Participants discussed recent achievements, the most pressing challenges ahead, and how the UfM is working to address them.
Lisbon, 11 October 2018 – The UfM Secretariat held its fourth high-level conference on women’s empowerment entitled, ‘Women build inclusive societies in the Mediterranean’ on 10-11 October in Lisbon. This edition brought together some of the most active voices on gender equality in the region, involving 350 participants from over 30 countries.
The Presidents of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, inaugurated the conference, which witnessed the participation of ministers in charge of gender equality, namely Maria M. Leitão Marques (Portugal), Hala Lattouf (Jordan), Néziha Labidi (Tunisia), as well as the President of the Egyptian National Council of Women, Maya Morsy and the Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Helga Schmid.
“Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a significant marker of development and a fundamental contribution to addressing the pressing challenges we are facing today at a global level”, said UfM Secretary General Nasser Kamel at the opening session.
Participants discussed the role of men, the private sector and the media to shift stereotypes and social barriers. They explored ways to combat gender-based violence, means to empower women in rural and agricultural areas, the role of women in science, technology and innovation, and measures to invest in reproductive health. Alongside the full conference’s programme and in partnership with renowned international organisations such as UN Women, UNIDO, UNDP, the Parliamentary Assembly of the UfM (PA-UfM), Science Po Paris, Konrad Adenauer, CIHEAM and the Euro-Mediterranean Women’s Foundation, a series of side events featured human-interest stories from UfM-labelled regional projects, a regional forum of women entrepreneurs and policy dialogue sessions with UfM country representatives and parliamentarians.
The event provided the opportunity to take stock of the progress made by the UfM Member States a year after the adoption of an ambitious ministerial declaration to promote gender equality in all spheres of society. It witnessed the presentation of a regional campaign that will be launched in the coming months to prevent and combat violence against women and girls in Southern Mediterranean countries. UfM country representatives and experts from the region also agreed on a regional follow-up mechanism with indicators to monitor progress on women’s rights, evaluate the gender gap and provide recommendations to policymakers and stakeholders in order to increase the impact.
The conference was also an occasion to share news on the recently-labelled project ‘Enhancing the civic and social engagement of women and youth in order to prevent violence and extremism‘. Endorsed only days ago by the UfM Member States, this four-year project seeks to support, with a budget of €2.6 million, the active engagement of young women and men in their local communities to prevent violence and extremism. Involving 5,000 direct beneficiaries and 20,000 community members, the project is to be implemented in Morocco and Tunisia in a first phase.
UfM Deputy Secretary General for Social Affairs Laurence Païs stated: ‘This past year has shown a global call for gender equality and women’s empowerment, and our region is no different. Inclusive societies are more prosperous societies and prosperity is a key building block on the road towards guaranteeing the security and wellbeing of all Mediterranean citizens, regardless of their gender’.
Furthermore, two publications were presented during the conference, one of which; ‘Strengthening the role of women in rural and agricultural areas – obstacles and opportunities’ draws focus on women in rural areas, who, unless they are empowered to become more resilient, will continue to bear the brunt of climate change and inequalities that hinder our collective prosperity and development. ‘Promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment’ is another publication which highlights how better use of the world’s female population can increase economic growth, reduce poverty, enhance societal wellbeing, and help ensure sustainable development.
Participants concluded by reaffirming that women continue to be one of the most promising yet untapped sources of potential in the region. In that regard, recent studies indicate that if there was parity between the participation of men and women in the labour market, the regional GDP could rise by as much as 47% over the next decade, meaning the region could benefit from an economic impact of around €490 billion annually.
The Conference was financially supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
High-level keynote speakers will give a warm welcome to conference participants and speak about key opportunities and challenges for women in the Mediterranean region today in the context of recent economic and political developments. They will explore the important role of the young generations for tackling challenges, and the role of women and men for bringing positive change through social innovation and leadership.
This session will explore the positive contribution of women to create change and build inclusive societies in the Mediterranean region through leadership and innovative initiatives in the private and public sectors and in civil society. In two panel discussions, experts and outstanding women and men who engage in the cause for gender equality and women empowerment will discuss key challenges and opportunities, strategies and achievements for leading positive change by women.
Gender roles are social roles. However, just like we do not speak about racial roles or class roles, we should not think about gender roles as “given” or as “fair” or “natural”. This plenary session explores what are ways to question and deconstruct gender roles in order to achieve more equality between men and women. Three panel discussions embark on discussing the role of men and private sector including media to shift stereotypes and create more equal and inclusive societies.
This session will give the stage to young leaders engaged in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment: the first part features the outcomes of the Youth Forum held on October 9th in which representatives from youth organizations discuss and develop innovative solutions and recommendations for women’s empowerment. In the second part of the session, outstanding young change makers from the Euro-Mediterranean region will present their projects and initiatives.
The conference will feature an amazing arts and exhibitions space that will be organized by youth representatives and show pictures, videos, short documentaries, and much more on gender equality and women’s empowerment in the region.
Young people will be an important part of this conference and will have their own space to get together, connect and engage in discussions, or just take a break from all the great events going on.
A dedicated space will showcase the latest research and publications on gender equality and women’s empowerment from participating organizations.
People and organizations engaged in advancing progress for women and girls can connect in this informal space, have 1:1 discussions and exchange ideas, building partnerships and collaborations, news on latest projects and research.
We are working with experts and partners to offer an exciting agenda with a variety of speakers and formats to learn, discuss, share experiences and network.
A number of exciting side events will engage special audiences in working groups and regional dialogue meetings for sharing experiences, insights and progress towards achieving concrete goals for improving women’s rights and participation.
The high level UfM Women4Mediterranean Conferences constitute the major regional platform to discuss, exchange experiences and promote women’s participation in the public, economic and civil life for bringing solutions to regional challenges. They create impact by gathering the most relevant stakeholders and leaders from the Euro-Mediterranean region – governments, parliaments, private sector, international organizations, academia, media, civil society, young women and men – to strengthen regional cooperation and identify best ways to drive positive change toward gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The Conferences focus on women’s roles as change makers and leaders in the region, and explore how women and men can overcome cultural and social barriers for driving the Euro-Mediterranean action agenda for women’s empowerment and the achievement of the SDGs forward. For almost 5 years, the conferences have been a catalyst for policy advocacy, regional initiatives and projects, new ideas, collaborations and partnerships
Building the collective and common understanding for driving change towards the achievement of gender equality in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
Share experiences, lessons learned and innovative approaches to overcome gender inequalities in all sectors and society spheres.
Build partnerships among governments, private sector, civil society and international organisations, to foster public policy development and implementation and accelerate the elimination of gender gaps.
Media are invited to attend all the conference sessions.
During the conference, interviews with speakers and participants will be possible. For this purpose, journalists should contact the UfM Secretariat at [email protected] before 30 September at 15h.
Journalists and media technical staff planning to cover the conference must be accredited. The request must include:
Please submit by e-mail your accreditation request to: [email protected]
Deadline for registration: 4 October at 15h
The Women4Mediterranean Conference 2018 will take place at the Champalimaud Foundation’s Centre for the Unknown, a unique landmark facing the river Tejo in the city of Lisbon, Portugal. The Foundation is located in Av. Brasília, 1400-038, Lisboa.
Download the logistic note for more information on accommodation, meals, weather, etc.
From Trivent (for logistics/accommodation):
Kinga Fodor – [email protected]– T+36 209 340 681
From the Union for the Mediterranean (for any other information):
Juli Hernández – [email protected] – T+34 605 402 475
The conference will be simultaneously translated into English, French, Arabic and Portuguese.
The side-events will be simultaneously translated into English, French and Arabic.