Euromed Holds a Regional Seminar on Women’s Economic Participation in the Southern Mediterranean Region

What are the key impediments to women’s labour force participation in the South Mediterranean? A seminar held on 30th June- 1st July 2008, Amman – Jordan.

Amman, Jordan, July 29, 2008 --( Compared with other regions, female economic activity rates in the MENA region are among the lowest worldwide. What are the key impediments to women’s labour force participation in the South Mediterranean? Have social security legislations and labour laws granted equal entitlements for women? Are economic rights of women in conflict situations, refugees and migrant women sufficiently addressed? What resources are required to implement the policy advocacy agenda for women’s economic empowerment in the region, and what is the cost to national economies of not implementing reform?

These and many other questions were critically examined by the regional Seminar titled “Women’s Economic Participation in the Southern Mediterranean Region” held on 30th June-1st July. The event was organised by the EUROMED Role of Women in Economic Life Programme, in cooperation with Jordan Forum for Business and Professional Women.

The event was inaugurated by H.E. Ms. Suhair Al Ali, Jordan’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation. In her inaugural, Ms. Al Ali emphasized that although women’s political, social and economic empowerment in the South Mediterranean region ranks high on many of the region's country development plans and reform agendas, and although a number of achievements have this far been achieved, gender inequality remains a great challenge. She called on Governments to integrate plans and strategies that empower women and highlighted the role of media outlets as potential allies and the role the private sector and civil society can play in empowering women.

Keynote speakers included Mr. Olbrechts Francis, Acting Head of the European Commission Delegation to Jordan. In his speech, he highlighted that the Regional Euromed Programme ''Enhancing equality between men and women in the Euromed region“ will support State actors in addressing legal and social issues related to gender equality. This Programme will run over the next three years (2008-11) and will be complementary to EC support to NGOs and Non State actors.

The two-day proceedings provided a platform to share experiences and good practices from across the region on several parameters of women’s economic participation. This included the presentation of gender budgeting experience in Egypt and Morocco, examining Jordan’s social security legislation reform from a gendered perspective, and addressing the media’s potential catalytic role in policy advocacy efforts towards enhancing women’s economic participation.

This regional seminar builds on the conclusions of an initial Consultative Meeting held in Cairo on 26-27 May 2008, providing an opportunity to present the outcomes of research commissioned by the Programme to examine women's Economic situation in 8 Mediterranean Partner Countries in addition to a comparative analysis of 10 Mediterranean partner countries.

One of the main outcomes of the seminar is that consensus was reached on the priority areas to advocate for change; 1)Women’s rights and gender equality; 2) Paid work and access to resources; 3) Social security and protection; 4) Formalisation of entitlements, ownership, rights; and 5) Economic growth and trade liberalization in an era of globalisation.

The “Women’s Economic Participation and Empowerment: a Rights-Based Framework for Policy Advocacy” presented, structured the analysis and debate in assessing how the priority areas could be supported by universal rights instruments; analysing how this system of rights operates in particular contexts; and identifying entry points for action and policy advocacy.

Sadouf Farraj
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