NAYA| The Mashreq Conference on Women’s Economic Empowerment

“I am a true believer that women will shortly start leading a change in many aspects including economics,” said Hariri.
by Sally Farhat and Tala Ramadan

20 January 2019 | 15:59

Source: by Annahar

Photo taken during the conference. (Annahar Photo).

BEIRUT: Politicians, entrepreneurs, and activists met Saturday in the halls of the Grand Serail reshaping women’s participation in the economy.

The Mashreq Conference on Women’s Economic Empowerment was held under the patronage of Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The event purposely coincided with the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit in Beirut.

“I am a true believer that women will shortly start leading a change in many aspects including economics,” said Hariri.

In partnership with the World Bank, International Finance Corporation, and the Government of Canada, the one-day conference tackled the importance of women’s contribution to the region’s economy and formed a discussion platform where Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq can collaborate with the private sector and civil society on the bases of common agendas.

“Canada commends the leadership of Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq in coming together for this conference and preparing country action plans for women empowerment,” said Emmanuelle Lamoureux, Ambassador of Canada in Lebanon, quoting Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.

The conference discussed several economic aspects that aim at augmenting women’s economic empowerment and dealing with it “as a catalyst towards more inclusive, sustainable, and peaceful societies, where economic growth benefits all.” The conference also pointed out the major challenges the region faces when it comes to the economic empowerment of women.

Additionally, the event recognized the key role of stakeholders in further empowering women economically and discussed the best practices to achieve the former.

Towards the end of the day, attendees witnessed the launch of the “Mashreq Gender Financing Facility,” a program that aims at assisting countries in enhancing women’s economic empowerment.

The conference hopes to become an annual event that allows progress revision and advancing commitments.

“The Mashreq countries are committed to closing gender gaps,” said Ferid Belhaj, Vice President, MNA Region, World Bank. “We are also committed to mobilizing our technical and financial resources to assist with the implementation of the plan in close cooperation with our partners.”

According to the World Bank, Women in the Mashreq region produce 18 percent of the GDP in comparison to the world’s average that sums up to 37 percent and “increasing female labor force participation to the levels of men could boost regional GDP by 47 percent.” Women’s low employment rates and high inactivity creates a lower participation rate in the labor force: 19 percent of working-age women participate in the labor force in the MENA region, while 46 percent in middle-income countries have active participation in the labor force.

Women’s economic empowerment increases inclusiveness in various institutions and results in the development of logical policies.

“Gender equality is smart economics,” said Belhaj.


Welcome to “Naya,” the newest addition to Annahar’s coverage. This section aims at fortifying Lebanese women’s voices by highlighting their talents, challenges, innovations, and women’s empowerment. We will also be reporting on the world of work, family, style, health, and culture. Naya is devoted to women of all generations — Naya Editor, Sally Farhat:

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