Over 700 experts, policymakers and representatives from the private sector, the civil society and international organizations are gathering virtually this week to discuss the state of gender equality in the Mediterranean region in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 5th UfM Women4Mediterranean Conference kicked-off yesterday with the launch of the first-ever Intergovernmental Monitoring Mechanism on Gender Equality in a meeting of the UfM Member States. This new reporting exercise will allow to measure and report the progress made on women’s rights and provide policy recommendations to close the gender gap in the region.
Barcelona, 17 November, 2020. The UfM Secretariat held yesterday the opening session of the 5th Regional Conference on Women’s Empowerment entitled ‘Accelerate gender equality in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic’. This edition is bringing together some of the most active voices on gender equality from across the region. The Conference sessions will be held virtually until 20 November. The Conference is held in the framework of the 25th Anniversary of the Barcelona Process and was inaugurated by the UfM Secretary General, Nasser Kamel and the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau. Opening speeches included Ministers from Jordan, Malta, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Sweden, Portugal, Norway, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, and the EU Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli. (watch the opening statements here)
The Opening session was preceded by a meeting of the UfM Member States to launch the first of its kind region-wide monitoring mechanism, which will provide data for scientific-based policies and support the implementation of gender-related Sustainable Development Goals to unleash the full potential of women in the Euro-Mediterranean region. The proposed mechanism comes in the format of 20 indicators that will help assess the country legal frameworks and policies on civil status, information and education, employment, participation in public life as well as access to health care and violence against women and girls. UfM country representatives showed a strong commitment to build and strengthen data and statistics collection systems in order to draft their country progress reports by 2021 based on a first set of 6 selected indicators.
Participants discussed the urgent need to multiply the efforts made by multi-level cooperation between both sides of the Mediterranean, which has become instrumental to provide gender-responsive recovery in cities and regions. They agreed that these efforts must address a wide range of issues, from women’s leadership and equal representation in all COVID-19 responses decision-making to the role that women’s networks and civil society organisations, including microfinance and savings groups, can play to address the economic crisis.
The UfM Secretary General, Nasser Kamel said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has immersed us into a new era, bringing to the fore alarming vulnerabilities and inequalities. Emerging data confirms that the impacts of crises are never gender neutral, and this pandemic is no exception. We must ensure that our collective response to face the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic paves the way for more inclusive societies that ensure young girls and women can fulfil their potential as agents of change and contributors to the region’s socio-economic development”.
Deputy Secretary General in charge of Social and Civil Affairs, Marisa Farrugia stated: “Studies show that significant progress has taken place in the UfM countries in relation to women and girls’ rights and overall, gender issues have gained significant momentum. At the institutional and political level, all UfM countries express commitments to gender equality within their legislative, constitutional and international frameworks such as gender equality laws, setting up of public bodies together with national strategic commitments. On the regional level women have never had as much autonomy, economic power or political influence as they have today. Yet, this is progress – but not equality.”
Alongside the full conference’s programme and in partnership with renowned international, regional and local organisations such as UN WOMEN, WHO, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, CIHEAM, CEED, the Government of Catalonia, the Barcelona City Council, and Smart City, a series of side events will feature human-interest stories from regional projects, a regional forum of women entrepreneurs and discussion panels on how to prevent violence against women in the context of a crisis, the role of cities and regions to build inclusive post COVID-19 societies, the role of youth in combatting gender stereotypes in the audio-visual sector, or how to mainstream gender in recovery responses of agri-food sectors and rural areas.
- Infographic on the Monitoring Follow-up Mechanism
- Infographic on Women & COVID-19 Pandemic
- UfM Ministerial declaration on strengthening the role of women in society
- Videos of the Conference
Since 1995, four Ministerial meetings on Strengthening the Role of Women in Society took place in the Euro-Mediterranean region – in 2006 in Istanbul, 2009 in Marrakech, 2013 in Paris and 2017 in Cairo – where strong commitments towards achieving gender equality were endorsed by countries. Important legal reforms and supportive policy actions for gender equality and women participation have been undertaken since then by UfM countries