Fostering Women's Economic Empowerment


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In the context of the 63rd session of the United Nation's Commission on the Status of Women, the WEEF held a panel discussion centred around four key issues underpinning women’s economic empowerment: i) legislative reform, ii) social norms/local traditions, iii) access to resources/opportunities and iv) women and men’s attitudes. 

Fatma Elkory Oumrane, Présidente de Maurifemme.

Ms Fatma Elkory Oumrane, Présidente de Maurifemme, 2018 WEEF annual meeting

Gender parity is not only a fundamental human right but also a fantastic economic opportunity for countries. It is now well-documented that working women contribute significantly to the growth of their national economies. With women in MENA countries increasingly well-educated and skilled, their stronger participation in employment, entrepreneurship and public life could substantially accelerate economic growth in the region.

The OECD 's Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) estimates that the impact of discrimination in laws, social norms and practices costs the MENA region a staggering USD 14 billion (USD 2,738 per capita). Changing laws and changing minds to boost women’s economic empowerment in the MENA region is not only the right thing to do but also the smart thing to do for sustainable and inclusive growth.

All countries of the MENA region have committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This commitment represents an important opportunity for the region to accelerate action on gender equality and women’s empowerment. 

About the MENA-OECD Women's Economic Empowerment Forum (WEEF) 

In 2008, the MENA-OECD Competitiveness Programme created an OECD-MENA Women’s Business Forum (WBF), which grew to become a network of over 700 participants from MENA and OECD governments, international and regional organisations, the private sector, academia and civil society.  Building on the WBF, a new MENA-OECD Women’s Economic Empowerment Forum (WEEF) was launched in 2017 under the aegis of its co-chairs, H.E. Dr Sahar Nasr, Minister of International Cooperation and Investment and H.E. Marie-Claire Swärd Capra, Ambassador of Sweden to Algeria. 

The WEEF aims to build a regional network where government and non-government representatives from OECD and MENA economies can exchange best practices and find solutions for enhancing women’s economic empowerment through:

  • encouraging further policy and legal reform 
  • collecting better gender data
  • enhancing gender mainstreaming in critical policy areas

The WEEF works in close collaboration with international and regional organisations advocating gender equality such as UN agencies, the League of Arab StatesCAWTAR, the Union of Arab Banks, and the Union for the Mediterranean.


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