Lisbon, 11 October 2018
The CIHEAM was associated to the UfM Secretariat 4th High-Level Conference on Women’s Empowerment entitled, "Women Build Inclusive Societies in the Mediterranean" held in Lisbon on 10-11 October.
Organised in partnership with renowned international organisations such as UN Women, UNIDO, UNDP, the Parliamentary Assembly of the UfM (PA-UfM), Science Po Paris, Konrad Adenauer, the Euro-Mediterranean Women’s Foundation and the CIHEAM, this edition brought together some of the most active voices on gender equality in the region, involving 300 participants from over 30 countries.
The President of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, inaugurated the conference, which witnessed the participation of Ministers in charge of gender equality, namely Maria M. Leitão Marques (Portugal), Hala Lattouf (Jordan), Néziha Labidi (Tunisia), as well as the President of the Egyptian National Council of Women, Maya Morsi and the Secretary-General of the European External Action Service, Helga Schmid.
The participants discussed the role of men, the private sector and the media to shift stereotypes and social barriers. They explored ways to combat gender-based violence, means to empower women in rural and agricultural areas, the role of women in science, technology and innovation, and measures to invest in reproductive health.
"Women are key partners to overcome Mediterranean rural issues"
In his concluding remarks, M. Placido Plaza, SG AI of the CIHEAM, recalled the CIHEAM's commitment to a major mission: finding sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by Mediterranean rural territories. These include climate change, food and nutritional insecurity, natural resource management in a context of scarcity, degradation of terrestrial, aquatic and forest ecosystems. The CIHEAM is also striving to overcome the challenge of unequal development of territories and communities in the Mediterranean region. These inequalities feed rural exodus and lead to the waste of precious human resources in a region that needs them.
For each of these challenges, Placido Plaza explained that "rural women are key partners and that we need to invest in enhancing their role." He recalled that in 2016, the CIHEAM adopted a new Strategic Plan (CAPMED) that enables to focus the action of the Organisation on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This Plan highlights the importance of the place women in a transversal way.
The CIHEAM's contribution to women empowerment
1) Capacity building and the scientific fields
Above all, the CIHEAM addresses this issue of gender through “capacity building”. In its Institutes, female students are mentored throughout their Masters and PhD courses. Women are encouraged to invest themselves in research and the scientific fields. With the UfM, the CIHEAM had a scholarship programme dedicated to this objective. Today, the issue of gender is integrated in our events such as meetings of Mediterranean young researchers and doctoral students. Example of the MEDFORUM. A future goal of the CIHEAM would be to mobilize its ALUMNI network to support projects for rural women.
2) Value chain approach
The strengthening of rural women must also be accomplished through the value chain approach. “From Field to Plate”, rural women play a fundamental role and the CIHEAM can support them from upstream to downstream by integrating environmental issues and innovations with high social added value.
3) Regional dialogue
The issue of strengthening and empowering rural women is a growing priority for the CIHEAM. As an IO bringing together countries of both Mediterranean Shores, through is political dialogue activities, the CIHEAM will promote this strategic theme among Member Countries and partners because it is at the heart of common interests. As such, exchanges of experience, good practices and date must be reinforced.
4) Institutional synergies
Lastly, the CIHEAM is at the disposal of partners wishing to develop joint projects. We strongly believe in the importance of synergies and complementarities in the fields we cover and even more so in strengthening the role of women as this requires a multidimensional approach and the strong participation of stakeholders.
Moderated by Ms Wafa Dikah Hamze, Former Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, advocate for women’s rights and gender equality, Agriculture and rural development specialist and CIHEAM Board member and with the participation of Ms Blanca Moreno-Dodson, Managing Director, World Bank/Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) the workshop brought together panellists from the CIHEAM (Ms Patrizia Pugliese), UNIDO (Ms Monica Carco), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Development Centre (Ms. Alejandra Maria Meneses) and from the civil society and NGO’s (Ms Rima Tarabay, Founder of Ecotown & vice president Bahr Loubnan, Liban. Ms Sarah Toumi, Founder, Acacias for All., Ms Belouahri Houria, in charge of El Ghaith project).
The workshop invited the panellists and the participants to exchange, present their experiences and to provide recommendations for the conference. The discussions took place around three major questions:
Rural women play a key role in the development of rural and agricultural areas. They account for 43% of the world’s agricultural workforce, a percentage that reaches 70% in some countries. Women are responsible for the majority of agricultural work, controlling most of the non-monetary economy (subsistence agriculture, childcare and child education, household responsibilities, water and energy supply). They are major contributors to food and nutritional security, to generating income and to improving the livelihoods and general welfare of households, particularly those with low incomes. Rural women are increasingly leading their own businesses, although their entrepreneurial potential remains largely unknown and underutilized. In terms of their role in the management of natural resources and their responsibilities in the provision of energy in their homes, they are leading actors in the fight against climate change.
Main findings of the Wikigender online discussion “strengthening the role of women in rural and agricultural areas in the Mediterranean region”: transforming challenges into opportunities” held on 17 September to 21 September 2018 organized by the OECD Development Center in partnership with CIHEAM and the UfM.
Furthermore, the joint publication of the CIHEAM-UfM ‘Strengthening the Role of Women in Rural and Agricultural Areas – Obstacles and Opportunities’ was presented during the conference which focuses on women in rural areas, who, unless empowered to become more resilient, will continue to bear the brunt of climate change and inequalities that hinder our collective prosperity and development.
More information on the Fourth UfM Women Empowerment Conference
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