UNIDO ITPO Italy joins forces to Economically Empower Women through Entrepreneurship in the MENA Region

Barcelona, Spain - 3-4 May 2018

UNIDO ITPO Italy joins forces to Economically Empower Women through Entrepreneurship in the MENA Region

Barcelona, 3-4 May 2018 – UNIDO ITPO Italy participated at the discussions about the second phase of the project on Promoting Women’s Empowerment (PWE) for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development in the MENA Region. The meeting held in Barcelona, counted with the participation of Representatives at ministerial level and of women’s business associations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region; as well as representatives from UNIDO, UN Women, FAO, the Italian Agency of Cooperation for Development (AICS) and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM).

Building on the best practices, lessons learned, and challenges identified during the first phase of UNIDO’s project, and on the recommendations of the independent evaluation, a second phase was developed.The relevance of extending to a second phase was highlighted by the Ministries of Industry and Women’s Business Associations at the project’s Steering Committees held in Amman (July 2016), Rome (April 2017), and Barcelona (May 2018). The consultations for Phase II thus brought together representatives from respective ministries dealing with industry, economic development, agriculture, and with women affairs from the region, as well as representatives from women business associations, some of which were already engaged in the first phase of PWE. Mr. Pierre Omran of the Ministry of Industry of Lebanon confirmed that while cooperation between ministries of industry and agriculture may be common, Phase II will greatly benefit from the added cooperation and engagement of ministries dealing women/social affairs.

The second phase will benefit from synergies and a joint intervention with UN Women and FAO, who can greatly complement UNIDO’s efforts. The project will leverage the respective extensive expertise in the region, particularly in policy and advocacy, and in providing specific technical assistance to advance women’s productive practices.

Women continue to face significant challenges in the MENA region to reach their full economic potential, which in return stifles the overall sustainable economic and social development of the region. Therefore, the joint project will invest increased efforts in creating an enabling ecosystem for women entrepreneurs with due consideration of the realities on the ground. The project seeks to alleviate persisting levels of rural marginalization, improve access to technologies and information, as well as improve control over resources. This will be complemented by building women’s capacities to improve the quality and quantity of their production, allowing them to seize opportunities for local, regional and international market integration. AICS has already agreed to allocate funds to the second phase, which will be labeled by UfM.

Discussions highlighted the innovative approach of Phase II in that it will play a critical convening role at regional level, while being adaptive to the local realities and needs at national level in the seven countries of the project (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia). Ms. Yasmina Taya, representative of the WBA consortium in Algeria, confirmed that the network established under Phase I has contributed to improved efficiency at country and regional level, and a Phase II will allow further scale up of impact.