Barcelona, 7 March 2017. The Union for the Mediterranean embraces the celebration of International Women’s Day with the implementation of projects and initiatives in the framework of its strategy on women’s empowerment.
Women’s rights and opportunities are still lagging behind those of men in the region. While in the EU countries women make up more than half of the university population (53.5%), they only represented 29% of members of parliament in 2016. These figures are even lower in the Southern Mediterranean countries, where they account for 16% of parliamentarians and only 1 in 4 women among the working age population are employed. The European and worldwide average comes to slightly more than 50%.
The UfM Secretariat, in coordination with all Member States, continues to develop the regional cooperation and dialogue agenda to advance women’s participation in public, social and economic life. This agenda includes the implementation of specific projects with particular impact on women. For example, 2017 will see the implementation of the 2nd phase of a UfM-labelled project promoted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) that aims to enhance women’s economic inclusion by supporting women-led investments and businesses in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia.
In accordance with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UfM Roadmap for Action endorsed by UfM Foreign Affairs Ministers on 23 January 2017, the UfM emphasises and supports the instrumental role of women and their decisive contribution to human development, prosperity and stability in the Mediterranean region. The UfM implements this contribution at a number of levels:
- Over 25 projects with more than 200,000 beneficiaries and a regional impact on human development have been officially launched. Projects with a specific focus on gender equality are benefiting more than 50,000 women.
- Building a common regional policy agenda through the UfM Ministerial meetings on “Strengthening the Role of Women in Society”. The fourth Ministerial Meeting is expected to take place in the second half of 2017, with the aim of defining a common regional agenda on gender equality for the coming years.
- Every year the UfM Secretariat organises a high-level Conference on Women’s Empowerment to identify, in partnership with key regional actors, specific and strategic solutions to promote the full participation of women in society.
- Providing a regional platform for cooperation and dialogue between key stakeholders in the Euro-Mediterranean region to enhance cooperation, partnerships and complementarity between actors within a multi-stakeholder approach.
- Advancing the gender equality agenda through partnerships with Member countries, international financial institutions and multilateral organisations. A €6.5 million multi-year financial agreement was recently signed with the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) to enhance regional cooperation in the Mediterranean. Women’s empowerment and gender equality are at the core of this agreement.
“Fostering region-wide cooperation initiatives in the field of women’s empowerment is paramount to effectively advance integration, stability and human development in our region. We all have the duty to act collectively and efficiently”, said Delphine Borione, UfM Deputy Secretary General for Social and Civil Affairs.
Audiovisual clip summarising UfM gender-equality activities, leading actors and recipients. It includes statements by Delphine Borione (Deputy Secretary General for Social and Civil Affairs in the UfM Secretariat) and Samira Merai Friâa (Tunisian Minister of the Promotion of Women)
The story of Soukeina El Bouj, who has built a school with the help of a UfM programme