Egypt, Jordan and Palestine discuss progress of regional programme on promoting women’s access to decent jobs

[Press release]


Jerusalem - Partners to the joint programme “Promoting Productive Employment and Decent Work for Women in Egypt, Jordan and Palestine” gathered for the third Regional High-level Strategic Coordination Committee meeting to discuss its progress in addressing structural issues related to women’s economic empowerment and access to decent jobs.

Supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and organized within the framework of the “Work4Women” joint programme implemented by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UN Women, the meeting focused on the support provided to women to access opportunities for better jobs, safety at workplaces, equal access to professional development, social protection for their families, and better prospects for personal development and integration in society, taking into account the COVID-19 context.

The meeting was hosted (virtually) by H.E. Mr. Khaled Al-Osaily, Minister of National Economy and H.E. Mr. Nasri Abu Gish, Minister of Labour in Palestine, and was attended by high-level government representatives of the three partner countries, as well as representatives of employers’ and workers’ organizations, civil society, and implementing UN agencies.

In the welcoming remarks, H.E. Mr. Al-Osaily stressed the commitment of the Palestinian Government to enhance women’s economic empowerment and access to the labour market. He said that the Ministry of National Economy is exerting its utmost efforts towards overcoming challenges that hinder women’s access to the labour market and to economic opportunities by creating a gender-responsive legal environment and by supporting private sector establishments that are in favour of women’s participation and leadership in the Palestinian economy.

Ms. Susanne Mikhail Eldhagen, UN Women Regional Director for the Arab States, highlighted “To change the trend of low women’s labour market participation we must scale for impact. This programme helped to identify the ’What’ and the ‘How’, now we have a unique opportunity to build forward better and equal, by sustainably investing in the promotion of labour rights of women, nurturing a gender responsive private sector, and strengthening the care economy through equally sharing, supporting and valuing care work.’

The key results achieved during the second year of the programme’s implementation were presented. The meeting also discussed future plans, learning from the lessons, achievements and challenges since the programme launched.

In one year of implementation, close to 1,000 women and men gained access to decent employment, 18 business leaders joined the global Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), initiatives improving the workplaces of more than 3,000 women workers were implemented in the three participating countries and 72,000 women and men became better aware of gender equality and the socio-economic benefits from increased women’s economic participation.

Through its participation in the joint programme, Egypt has joined Jordan as a member of the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC), while millions of women and men will benefit from reformed labour legislations and gender-responsive policies and practices introduced by private businesses.

Ms. Ruba Jaradat, ILO Regional Director for the Arab States, noted in her address to the event that the ILO is projecting that global hours worked in 2021 will be 4.3 per cent below pre-pandemic levels - equivalent to the loss of 125 million full-time jobs in comparison to the fourth quarter of 2019. The Arab States had the highest loss of hours worked at 6.5 per cent, and overall, the Arab region has the world’s highest unemployment rate, especially among youth and women, Jaradat said. “Based on these figures, we need collective action to create and maintain productive jobs with decent work conditions, and to ensure that women are not left behind,” Jaradat noted. “This programme is more critical than ever, and our plans are right on target. I am happy that we are all working together, not only for ensuring that women keep their existing jobs, but also for creating new jobs for women in non-traditional sectors,” she said.

“Sweden is committed to support the region’s efforts in achieving gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights. In line with the Swedish foreign policy and the Development Cooperation Strategy for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Sweden appreciates the work accomplished under the joint programme, taking a holistic approach to finding solutions to issues of women’s economic empowerment,” said Ms. Maria Selin, Head of Regional Development Cooperation in the MENA region at the Swedish Embassy in Amman, Jordan. Ms. Selin underscored the need to amplify the enablers that lead to women’s increased participation in a green and sustainable economic recovery process.

The joint programme contributes to Sweden’s new Strategy for development cooperation for global gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights 2021 - 2025; is fully aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals 5 and 8 on gender equality and decent work and economic growth. It contributes to the implementation of international frameworks and standards as well as national development strategies and plans.