This article is part of the UfM Report: Visions and actions to promote gender equality in the Mediterranean
Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but is today a significant marker of development in our societies. It is widely recognised that women empowerment is a precondition for prosperous, stable and sustainable societies as strong evidence shows that improving gender equality can enhance productivity and improve the performance of businesses and institutions. Therefore, achieving gender equality is a fundamental contribution to address the pressing challenges we are facing today at global level.
In the Euro-Mediterranean region, significant progress has been made over the past years in closing gaps between men and women. In many countries, there are more women attending universities than men, and there are also positive trends in women’s participation in the economic, political, civil, social and cultural spheres of life.
However, gender equality remains a key issue in the region. The educational gains achieved by women are yet to translate into concrete results in terms of greater empowerment and equal perspectives. Such persistent inequalities incur high costs for the region and hamper the ability for sustainable economic growth and good governance. More and continued efforts are therefore needed, by all stakeholders, to address these challenges. This is why the Union for the Mediterranean has put women empowerment at the heart of its strategic priorities for the enhancement of regional cooperation in the Mediterranean.
Mandated by the Ministers of its 43 Member States, notably through the Ministerial Declarations of Istanbul, Marrakech, Paris and now Cairo, the UfM has been actively setting a regional, structured and inclusive agenda to promote women’s economic, social and political rights in the region in close cooperation with all regional stakeholders through three dimensions political fora, policy dialogues and projects. Foreword These three levels of action acknowledge the key importance of expanding and reinforcing collective efforts and complementarities. The UfM is thus determined to consolidate its role as a regional multi-stakeholder platform for all EuroMediterranean actors to foster synergies in the field of women empowerment, as it is in a unique position to facilitate regional dialogue and strategic partnerships in the region.
The present publication echoes this call and invites to continue promoting a strong shared regional agenda, towards the enhancement of the untapped potential of our region, above all the role of women as major driving forces for change and development in all societies. The UfM Ministers of Foreign Affairs adopted a Roadmap for Action in January 2017, at the occasion of the II Regional Forum of the UfM in Barcelona, giving a clear political impulse for the enhancement of regional co-operation efforts in the Euro-Mediterranean region. We must ensure this political momentum continues to be translated into concrete actions for the benefit and the well-being of the citizens of our region. The UfM Secretariat is fully committed with all its partners in this sense, to achieve our common goals for a more stable, integrated and prosperous Euro-Mediterranean.
Fathallah Sijilmassi, former Secretary General of the UfM
Fathallah Sijilmassi was appointed Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean on 1 March, 2012. He was re-elected Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean on December 4, 2014 until February 2018.
A career Diplomat for the Moroccan Government, he specialises in the field of economic international relations, in particular with regard to Euro-Mediterranean issues.
He started working in the banking sector as representative of the Banque Commerciale du Maroc in Milan (Italy). His career within the Moroccan administration was then marked by his active role in the negotiations of free trade agreements with the European Union, the United States, and several Arab and African countries.
From 1999 onwards, he has held senior positions within the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Director of Multilateral Cooperation (1999-2001), Director of European Affairs and Ambassador to the Barcelona Euro-Mediterranean Process (2001-2003). In 2003, he was appointed Ambassador to the European Union (2003-2004) and later to France (2005-2009).
In 2009, he becomes CEO of the Moroccan Investment Development Agency, leading its launch and subsequent growth.
Fathallah Sijilmassi is an officer of the Légion d´honneur and grand officer in the Ordre National du Mérite of the Republic of France.