Le projet YEP MED soutient l'inclusion économique des femmes méditerranéennes
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The YEP MED project works towards the bettering of the economic conditions of young people around the Mediterranean by improving their employability and adding to the repertoire of their Blue Skills. On top of this, an emphasis is made on the inclusion of women in the training and internship programmes. Women have always had a more difficult road in the professions of the logistics and transport sectors, and this was further solidified by the consequences of the pandemic. In the following article, Anwar Zibaoui, the General Coordinator at the Association of the Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCAME) reflects on the importance of including women in the Mediterranean economic recovery.
Women in the Mediterranean region have battled the pandemic in particularly difficult conditions. They have led on the health frontlines with 79 per cent of nurses being women. Yet, despite their multiple responsibilities, women in the region still have the lowest economic and labour force participation rates in the world.
In the post-COVID-19 phase, women can make a difference in the recovery process, and thus can be part of a new development model. Now is the time for them to take their rightful places in the economy, in leadership positions across the region, and to act as the engines of change and recovery.
The integration of women into the economy in the Mediterranean region remains an unfinished business, despite some palpable progress in some countries. Unfortunately, per capita income remains among the lowest, poverty continues to affect large parts of the region and the international environment is no longer as favourable as in the past.
Half of the world's working-age population are women, 50% of them working in business sectors com-pared to 80% of men. Wealth loss due to the gender gap is estimated at 10% of GDP in advanced economies and, even more drastically, at over 30% in the Mediterranean region.
The figures are overwhelming: only 49.2% of the population in the southern and eastern part of the Mediterranean participate in the labour market compared to 63.5% worldwide. Of these figures, only 30% are women, with female unemployment reaching 41% among young women. Unemployment among female graduates is as high as 45% and, although there is now greater access to education, they still find themselves excluded. Increasing women's participation would add 47% to GDP over the next decade.
This demonstrates a low participation rate in the southern Mediterranean economy, at only 16%, all the while the global average rests at 33%. This implies a threefold loss in human capital, growth and social equality. With women's participation in the labour force, the middle class is growing and social and gender inequalities are being reduced.
The inclusion of women is a necessity that determines the success or failure of the economic and social development of the whole region. In the process of Mediterranean integration, gender balance and equal opportunities must be achieved. Long-term strategies with specific programmes must be in place - as support for women could add up to $12 trillion to the global GDP by 2025.
Encouraging women entrepreneurship and increasing the number of women entrepreneurs guarantees economic gains and accelerates equality. It is about diversity and inclusion, not about a schism be-tween women and men. It is about a balance that contributes to better informed decision-making. Women have the potential to be substantial contributors to economic growth.
The stakes are extremely high. Many difficulties could be avoided by easing the conditions to promote their role in the economy, removing the real obstacles that prevent women from moving up the corpo-rate ladder, providing equal opportunities in pay and promotion opportunities, and not pigeon-holing women into particular positions.
Inequalities affecting women in the business sector have been caused, among others, by cultural norms, insufficient support for women-led enterprises, lack of policy frameworks to address the gender gap, and the challenges of balancing family responsibilities with employment.
Despite all this, women entrepreneurs are an increasingly consolidated and present reality in the Mediterranean. Their role is key to achieving the goals of regional integration. Women share a tradition of cooperation; they can use their strengths to create new scenarios, share their experiences and establish business relationships.
Women's creativity and potential must be harnessed. They must be given the support, opportunity and freedom to make their contributions. Clinging to outdated traditions is comfortable, but it can kill the genius of innovation. Change is inevitable and can be enriching if everyone participates and is open to the ideas and views of others.
Women's participation in the economy is a priority and an imperative because of its positive impact on boosting economic growth. With their contributions we can reduce social inequalities because prosperity is interdependent on inclusion. Moreover, these can be achieved based on the fact that no entrepreneurship is sustainable if it does not incorporate and reflect all segments of society.
It is impossible to move forward in the region without building together a society based on equal opportunities, or without ensuring women's participation in economic and business developments. Women are important actors in business creation and have a competitive advantage: they are innovators who create new solutions to improve people's lives. Their impact on society can be decisive and key to development and recovery in this post-COVID-19 period. Without them it is impossible to move for-ward, as they are partners in evolutions and revolutions, as they are in society.
Anwar Zibaoui General Coordinator of the Association of the Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry - ASCAME
This article originally appeared in Spanish on the Europa Press website. Explicit permission was obtained from the author to republish the contents.
For more information about how YEP MED works towards the inclusion of women in the Blue Economy, please head to:
Read the original: https://www.europapress.es/epsocial/punto-critico/noticia-mujer-mediterranea-motor-cambio-recuperacion-anwar-zibaoui-coordinador-general-ascame-20210308080338.html