Gender Concerns International is launching an initiative to strengthen women’s economic empowerment through social entrepreneurship in the Euro-Mediterranean region. This multi-stakeholder plan aims to intervene in conditions of economic stagnation and poverty which may lead to the rise and recruitment of young people into armed groups and organisations. In addition, to advance on women’s political leadership and economic empowerment there is a crucial need for systematic and sustained intervention that will strengthen the policy-influencing capacity of women’s organisations and women in civil society organisations.
The Euro-Mediterranean social entrepreneurship initiative addresses both the political and economic aspect of entrepreneurship focusing on creating innovative solutions for development to address urgent social problems. This initiative was introduced at a Euro-Mediterranean Conference in Barcelona on 19-21 May, an event that explored ways to promote women’s empowerment and reduce the gender gap in economic participation of women in the Euro-Mediterranean region. The conference brought together 250 experts and policymakers, international and national organisations, donors and banks, civil society and project promoters from 35 countries. Regional leaders presented at the conference including the Minister of Women and Family Affairs of Tunisia, Ms. Samira Merai Friia; the President of the Anna Lindh Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, Ms. Elisabeth Guigou; and Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean M. Fathallah Saijilmassi.
The conference facilitated discussions on how to foster women’s economic empowerment among other issues, as Gender Concerns met with stakeholders and partner organisations. It was recognised that women need to assert more to claim space in the labour market, particularly in the southern Euro-Mediterranean region.
As revealed by Gender Concerns International’s 2014 Gender Election Observation Mission (GEOM) in Tunisia, more than 300,000 women were unable to vote due to lack of an identification card. Many of these women were unemployed and unable to raise their concerns in the political arena or to generate a decent income. Gender Concerns aims to continue to address the link between political and economic development.