Regional Economic and Business Experts Gather in Tunis to Empower Women

Added on:  11-Nov-2015

Supporting Women’s Economic Empowerment: Fostering Intra-Regional Cooperation between Practitioners: Second Regional Workshop

Tunis, Tunisia – 11 November 2015 – The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) gathered over 50 practitioners from the Arab States region for a two-day workshop in Tunis. Participants discussed ways to promote women’s participation in non-traditional sectors of the economy, economic empowerment in conflict and post-conflict contexts, and how to measure the results and impact of women's economic empowerment initiatives.

The workshop took place within the frame of UN Women’s joint programme with the EU. The Spring Forward for Women programme- funded by the EU-seeks to recognize and promote the instrumental role that women play in the development and economic growth of the region.  It builds on the results of the first workshop that took place on 20 -21 April 2015 in Cairo (Egypt) on the same topic and the recent launch of the Arab Women's Economic Empowerment Network “Khadija” last September.

“There are plenty of impressive examples of women in the Arab States region reaching senior leadership positions in non-traditional sectors”, emphasized Ms. Maryse Guimond, the Programme Manager of the Spring Forward for Women programme, “Besides our work to support marginalized and poor women, we believe celebrating the success of women’s leadership in non-traditional sectors is also important. These sectors include for example engineering, science, telecommunications, information technology and finance.”

The EU's support for this particular action is within the framework of its support to gender equality in the region. Ms. Armelle Lidou, Head of Cooperation with the EU Delegation in Tunisia, underlined that, "this project is a key element of a broader EU effort to support and create opportunities for women in the region. EU financial support to gender equality initiatives in the region amounts to a little over €93 million. For our part, the EU in Tunisia continues to demonstrate strong commitment to furthering this ambitious agenda with the Tunisian authorities and civil society partners." 

The Arab States region currently has the lowest rate of women's participation in the workforce at 27%. Female unemployment is more than double the rate of male unemployment. Economic and social pressures drive women into vulnerable labour and the informal sector. The Arab States region has the lowest percentage of female business owners in the world at 5% as opposed to the global rate of 24-26%. In a rapidly changing regional economic context, the under-utilisation of women’s potential places additional strain on economies and hinders economic growth. 

The workshop participants were from social, private, financial and public sectors as well as representatives from UN organizations and multilateral development banks. A final report with conclusions is currently being developed and will be made available on our websites.


About the Spring Forward for Women Programme

The Regional Programme for the Economic and Political Empowerment of Women in the Southern Mediterranean Region (“Spring Forward for Women”) strives to advance the economic and political empowerment of women in the Southern Mediterranean region. The programme (2012-2016) supports women across the region, in their efforts to have greater influence in shaping the future of their countries while protecting their previous gains. It focuses on priority countries suffering from unrest, or undergoing transition and reform, such as Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Palestine and Tunisia. It connects stakeholders to ensure that marginalised women in these countries receive capacity building, advocacy, information and partnerships that address the barriers that have impeded their access to and engagement in economic and public life. The programme is financed through a contribution of €7 million from the European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument (ENPI) and €1.2 million from UN Women's core budget.

For more information:


For all media inquiries, please contact


Emad Abou-Elgheit

Media and Communication Expert

UN Women – Regional Office for Arab States

Tel: +20 2 2768 7412


European Union Delegation to Tunisia:

Mélanie Bride, cooperation attachée, in charge of gender equality and civil society programmes

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