UfM conference: women as force for development

Program launched to help over 2,000 female entrepreneurs

12 October, 10:50

    UfM conference: women as force for stability and development UfM conference: women as force for stability and development

       - Rome - A conference on women sponsored by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) concluded with the launch of the second phase of the UfM and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) program to strengthen the role and the awareness of women in economic development in North Africa and the Middle East.

    The two-day conference ended on Tuesday in Barcelona.

    The program, supported by UfM members with 4.5 million euros in funding, aims to help over 2,000 female entrepreneurs in the area - especially in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia - with about 500 entrepreneurial projects that are meant to valorize women's roles in inclusive, sustainable industrial growth. The conference focused on women as a driving force behind development and stability in the Med area and about 250 people took part, including civil society and government representatives such as the Jordan's Minister for Social Development Wajeeh Azayzeh and Tunisia's Minister for Women and Family Affairs Néziha Labidi. The UfM's parliamentary committee on women's rights met at the same time. The Barcelona conference was an opportunity to take stock of regional dialogue on women's empowerment supported by the UfM secretariat between 2015 and 2016, in order to draw up a strong regional agenda for a ministerial level meeting in 2017, according to a UfM secretariat statement. ''The young and women,'' UfM Secretary General Fathallah Sijilmassi said, ''are catalyzing force for change, a source of innovation and a driving force for growth. Equality between men and women is a factor of inclusive growth, democracy and stability for the Mediterranean region, and this is the reason why we put women's empowerment at the center of Mediterranean politics.'' So far, UfM activities included the starting of 25 projects in the field involving almost 200,000 people. Among them is the Med4Jobs project with its 12 projects underway in both the northern and southern Mediterranean for 100,000 youths seeking work and entrepreneurs, which supports the development of about a thousand SMEs. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, promoting equal participation in the labor market and public life could raise GDP by 26% by 2025. 

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