The UfM regional dialogue on Women’s Empowerment, launched in 2015, involves UfM Member States and also international organisations, civil society and private sector representatives. It aims to examine the implementation of regional commitments adopted by the 2013 UfM Ministerial Conference on “Strengthening the Role of Women in Society” particularly through four working groups focusing on women’s participation in economic life, the fight against violence, women’s access to positions of leadership and changing gender stereotypes.
Two of these working groups have gathered on 12 and 19 July, respectively, in Paris and Amman to work on drawing up a progress report which will contribute to the conclusions of the next UfM Ministerial Conference on Women’s Empowerment.
- Promoting women’s access to leadership and decision-making positions
On 12 July in Paris, the working group on “Women’s access to leadership and decision-making positions”, co-chaired by France and the OECD, discussed the commitments that still need to be achieved to increase the access of women to leadership positions, both in the public sector and the corporate sector. A first preliminary report, prepared following analysis of the UfM countries’ reports, was discussed by the participants, who also benefitted from a presentation of the studies performed by the OECD in this field. Participants analysed the state of play, the current barriers (cultural, structural, organisational and self-imposed) and best practices currently implemented within the Member States. They also discussed how governments, through the implementation of public policies, could more efficiently foster women’s access to leadership and decision-making positions.
- Promoting women’s participation in economic life
The working group meeting on “Raising women’s participation in economic life”, co-chaired by Italy and UNIDO, on 19 July in Amman, followed the same methodology and also brought together a variety of key stakeholders in the Euro-Mediterranean region to discuss in particular policies to reduce informal work, promote entrepreneurship, access finance and markets, and promote work-life balance. Speakers from Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Palestine and the European Union, including prominent representatives of the public and private sectors, women’s business associations, successful women entrepreneurs, NGOs and international organisations, took part in this meeting.
“In a collaborative and partnership-based approach, we strive to involve governments but also the main international actors, to identify constraints and common solutions to advance the Mediterranean gender agenda in the region. Fostering women’s access to leadership positions and their participation in economic life are two conditions for promoting the role of women, but also to strengthen the development and stability of our countries”, SDSG Delphine Borione said.
In parallel with this meeting, UNIDO also organised a High-Level Conference on “Promoting Women’s Empowerment for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development in North Africa and the Middle East”.
Following these two working group meetings, the two other working groups will meet in September 2016 and will be dedicated to the fight against stereotypes and violence against women and gender-based violence.
The 4th regional dialogue meeting will take place on 6 October as part of the annual High-Level UfM Conference on Women’s Empowerment, which will bring together the main stakeholders fostering women’s empowerment around the Mediterranean to share ideas, experiences, initiatives and recommendations regarding the essential role that women play in promoting peace, development and stability.