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UfM Strengthens the Role of Women in the Mediterranean

Ministers from the 43 Member countries of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) gathered in Cairo at the 4th UfM Ministerial Conference on “Strengthening the Role of Women in Society.” They agreed on a common agenda to strengthen the role of women in the Euro-Mediterranean region.

The Ministerial Conference was chaired by the Jordanian Minister of Social Development, Hala Lattouf, in the presence of the UfM Secretary General, Fathallah Sijilmassi. It was hosted by the Arab Republic of Egypt represented by the President of the National Council for Women, Maya Morsy.

The ministers acknowledged the efforts made by UfM countries to foster gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment and stressed the need to address the obstacles that still hinder the full participation of women in the public and private spheres. They also encouraged further efforts to consolidate and advance on the progress achieved. To that end they adopted a Declaration  with concrete and operational recommendations, actions and measures focused on four priority areas: raising women’s participation in public life and decision-making; improving women’s economic participation; combating all forms of violence against women and girls; and eliminating gender stereotypes.

The Conference saw the presentation of a Progress Report on the advancement of gender equality in the region, prepared as part of the UfM regional dialogue process on women’s empowerment by UfM officials and representatives from the main international and regional organisations.

The report shows that significant progress has been made in some specific areas related to women’s and girls’ rights, namely on access to education and the public sphere. However, it also reveals that there is still a clear gap between legislative and policy efforts and implementation. Discriminatory practices, social barriers, insufficient institutional protection and unequal access to services and resources were identified among the main obstacles to gender equality in the region. Moreover, violence against women and girls constitutes a major issue in all UfM countries, where millions of women and girls continue to experience physical and sexual violence. In this regard, the ministers decided to support the launch of a regional awareness campaign to prevent violence against women and girls. The campaign will be implemented by the European Commission.

The UfM Secretariat was mandated to develop a regional follow-up mechanism on agreed indicators to monitor progress on women’s rights and promote specific region-wide projects and initiatives.

On the margins of the Conference, the UfM Working Group on Women’s Economic Participation & Leadership will be meeting this afternoon to discuss the first steps to implement the Ministerial Declaration’s recommendations on this specific area. Additionally, a meeting on Partnerships and Engagement will also take place involving the main regional and international organisations as well as financing institutions working in the field of women’s empowerment. The objective of this meeting is to highlight stakeholders’ engagement on gender equality as well as explore synergies and deeper coordination among all the key regional actors with a view to improving impact on the ground.

 


 
 
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