Fostering Women's Economic Empowerment


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OECD / UNDP / UN Women Regional Webinar
COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa: Impact on women’s economic empowerment and policy responses

8 July 2020 | 14:00-16:00 Cairo/Paris time |Online
English/Arabic simultaneous interpretation available

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.

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.


Find out more: 

Publications & documents

Women's Economic Empowerment in Selected MENA Countries: The Impact of Legal Frameworks in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia (2017) (English | Français | عربي)
Women in Business 2014: Accelerating Entrepreneurship in the Middle-East and North Africa (English | Français | عربي)
Women in Business 2012: Policies to Support Women's Entrepreneurship Development in the MENA Region
"Empowering Women-led SMEs: Economic Development and the New Arab World", Draft issues paper, 2012
"Women’s Access to Finance in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region", Draft issue paper, 2011

 Related OECD Resources

Related Activities

Event conclusions

National Consultation of Women's Economic Empowerment in Egypt, 9 September 2019, Cairo, Egypt
Changing Laws, Changing Minds
,  63rd session of the United Nation's Commission on the Status of Women, 11 March 2019, UN Headquarters, New York
MENA-OECD Women's Economic Empowerment Forum Annual Conference, 13-14 November 2018, Tunis, Tunisia
March on Gender: The Impact of Legal Frameworks on Women’s Economic Empowerment around the World, 7 March 2018, Paris, France
Launch of the Women’s Economic Empowerment Forum, 7-8 October 2017, Cairo, Egypt, 
Women's Business Forum Meeting 2014: Tools supporting women's economic empowerment, 6 June 2014, Paris, France
Women's Business Forum 2013 on nurturing entrepreneurship and improving women's access to services and financing (English | عربي)

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