CASABLANCA, 9 February 2016 – Boosting employment among women living in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, ways of promoting women to managerial positions, removing gender wage gaps, and other activities relating to women empowerment were today discussed during an event in Casablanca.
It was organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Government of Italy, and the Union For Mediterranean (UfM), who since 2015 lead a strategic partnership that promotes women economic empowerment in the MENA region with the help of a project titled “Women economic empowerment for inclusive and sustainable industrial development”.
The three-year, EUR 4.5 million project already has a range of activities in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia, and foresees to expand to Algeria this year. So far, it has helped map the major constraints facing women entrepreneurs, and train over 100 representatives of women business associations on pre-investment financial feasibility using UNIDO’s COMFAR tool. In addition, some 90 women-led projects have been identified and promoted in Italy under a business-to-business approach.
Speaking at the event, Asmaa Morine, President of the Morocco Business Women Association (AFEM), noted the importance of women entrepreneurship development in the region for boosting economic growth in the manufacturing and service sectors, and stressed the role played by Women’s Associations in providing the necessary support to their members.
Alessandro Ferranti, the General Counselor of Italy in Morocco, stressed that the economic independence of women, which can be achieved through entrepreneurship development, remains a priority for his Government, particularly in the MENA region. He added that the Government of Italy believes that the integrated approach designed by UNIDO is key for boosting women’s participation in the labour force, local economic development and for mobilizing trade and investment.
Janne Vangen Solheim, an entrepreneur from Norway and a UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador for manufacturing, who was invited for the event in Casablanca, referred to her experience and stressed that the entrepreneurial path is harder for women but through networking, partnership and mutual support, women entrepreneurs can become catalyzers of successful and innovative ventures.
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