Tag Archives: Women

Altafemina, FEMISE and IM conclude a partnership for women in the Mediterranean !

Samah Ben Dhia (Altafemina) and Constantin Tsakas (IM, FEMISE)

Press release – March 8, 2019

Altafemina, FEMISE and Institut de la Méditerranée conclude a strategic partnership for women in the Mediterranean

The three institutions are committed actors in their efforts to contribute to inclusive development models, to advocate values ​​of diversity and solidarity and are aware of the need to pool resources to act for strengthening women’s engagement in the Mediterranean. This is why Altafemina, FEMISE and Institut de la Méditerranée announce today that they decided to collaborate in the framework of a strategic partnership.

The works of the FEMISE think-tank and of Institut de la Méditerranée show that new models are needed in the Mediterranean to bring about social change, to allow young women to have confidence in themselves, to show the whole society the potential of women and to allow growing accustomed to equality of chances. For its part, Altafemina is an exemplary organization whose ambition is to develop a diverse network of professional and social relations, in order to propose strong women dynamics. The activities of Altafemina have a real resonance in the territory of the SUD Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region and the association aims to extend its model internationally.

Thus, this partnership aims to create a constructive virtuous circle in the Mediterranean that is displaying an innovative and distinctive stance, allowing for strong and meaningful proposals to emerge. It will focus on themes ranging from entrepreneurial dynamics carried by women, to the status of women in research and innovation, in environmental economy, in management bodies or in the media. The partners will deploy their cooperation efforts to, amongst other things:

– develop and implement cooperation projects and capacity building programs for women in the EuroMed region,

– create, animate and enhance a Mediterranean ecosystem of female entrepreneurship to create a favourable environment for women entrepreneurs in the EuroMed region,

– organize joint events and publications and carry out awareness-raising campaigns in countries around the Mediterranean.

For Altafemina, FEMISE and Institut de la Méditerranée, Women’s Day does not stop on March 8, but takes place every day!

All together for strong women dynamics in the Mediterranean!

For more information, please contact :

Altafemina : Ms. Samah Ben Dhia, President, contact@altafemina.com, www.altafemina.com                    

IM / FEMISE :
Dr. Constantin Tsakas, General Manager of Institut de la Méditerranée, General Secretary of FEMISE c.tsakas@femise.org ++ 33 (0)4 91 31 51 95 
www.femise.org

Med Change Makers e07 : Karine MOUKADDEM, Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in the MENA region

 

FEMISE recently launched its series of interviews called « Med Change Makers ».

« Med Change Makers » are text and video-based interviews that allow dynamic researchers of the FEMISE network to illustrate how their research addresses a policy-relevant question and how it contributes to the policy-making process in the Euro-Mediterranean region.

 

Going towards Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in the South-Med and MENA region

Interview with Karine Moukaddem, SciencesPo, Institut de la Méditerranée and FEMISE

FEMISE places the issue of Inclusiveness at the heart of its research strategy. The issue of women empowerment in the Mediterranean, and more generally in MENA, is of paramount importance to move towards a model of sustainable and inclusive development.

Author of a forthcoming FEMISE MED BRIEF, Karine Moukaddem provides an assessment of existing policy measures on women empowerment in the southern shore of the Mediterranean. She argues that behind the existence of a “Mediterranean paradox” are structural obstacles that are crucial to overcome. Interview :

1. You talk about the “Mediterranean Paradox” while describing the situation of women in the South-Med. What does it imply and what are its root causes?

The Mediterranean Paradox is easy to explain: On the one hand, educational attainments of women improved drastically in the region and female enrolment in schools and universities increased considerably. But on the other hand, women seem to still be struggling to find a place in the labour market. Female labour force participation rates in the region remain lower than in other developing countries and stagnant. In other words, it seems like women participation to the labour market in the South Med is constrained by other factors than access to education.

Regarding the root causes of the paradox, several obstacles are identified as impeding on women’s economic inclusion.

First, the analysis of the labour market structure in the region shows that while in the public sector employment opportunities contract, opportunities in the formal private sector do not rise. Therefore, the increase in the number of educated women translates in an increased female unemployment or a lower female participation in the formal sectors. Second, women’s overall labour participation levels seem to be affected by economic development and improvements in gender equality legislation (or lack of) as well as by the private foreign ownership of the firm and its exporting activities. Other impediments such as the lack of safe, efficient and cheap public transports hamper commuting to work for women.

However, such economic and practical explanations do not explain the whole Paradox; some key factors are cultural. This argument states that women from conservative societies would tend to participate less in the labour market given the large impact of social norms on their trade-off between working outside and being housewives. The considerable negative effect of traditional social norms would be materialised in several conscious and unconscious biases that dissuade women from choosing a professional carrier.

To understand the full situation of women today, all of these arguments matter. The situation is a complex mix between explicit concrete and implicit psychological obstacles that interact both at the macro and micro levels. Women in the South-Med today face structural multi-layered self-reinforcing inequalities deeply rooted in the system.

2. a) Has the situation of women in the South-Med region been improving in terms of concrete economic empowerment?

Yes, it has been improving in the region through some advancement in education mostly and enhanced legislations. Yet, inequalities are still prevalent in the region and concrete economic empowerment seems to be far from reached. The South-Med region seems to be behind in gender equality matters compared to other regions and the situation is actually improving slower than in other developing regions such as East Asia and Pacific or Latin America and the Caribbean. ILO estimates suggest that female labour force participation reached 59% in East Asia and Pacific in 2017, while in Latin America this rate reached 51.5%. As for the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region, the female labour force participation is less than half and close to only 20.6% in 2017. The region also lays behind when it comes to a other indicators of women economic and political participation.

b) You argue that the situation is not improving at the correct pace despite the measures adopted, why?

The answer is simple, when it comes to policy making regarding gender equality issues, two aspects are key to understand the inefficiency of the available measures adopted: On the one hand, there are obstacles that impede on the full implementation of measures. On the other hand, these measures are not comprehensive of the situation of women in the region.

First, measures are often hindered by the lack of social will to change. Due to the unconscious biases and other implicit and explicit channels, top-down initiatives are often misunderstood by locals, not accepted by the whole society and seen as inadequate. Mentalities and social norms remain not open to structural change, therefore despite national and international efforts, locals will find a way to deviate or pretend to change the situation without real consequences on empowerment.

Moreover, the measures adopted are often punctual uncoordinated projects and legal adjustments that do not into account the whole picture. The symptoms of the inequality problem are tackled but not the roots. Measures often lack consistency, sustainability/durability and are not part of a holistic approach to the matter. For instance, it is not enough to implement quotas, the system itself needs to work on reforming the role given to women and deconstructing the stereotypes and structural norms. In addition, there is no one South-Med woman but different profiles with different needs and that face different degrees of discrimination. For example, rural women accumulate inequalities and the answers to empower them are not the same as for women living in the capital.

3. How can the state create the conditions for women to fulfil their untapped potential?

To reach a structural empowerment the state needs to implement comprehensive laws and women empowerment needs to be a priority in National agendas, not only an aspiration. There is a need for national strategies creating the conditions allowing women to fulfil their potentials in all sectors of the economy, society and national politics. Creating a flexible national framework that understands women’s needs in each sector of activity and each context, would allow to institutionalize women empowerment. These principles would lead to a better framework for legislative reforms especially in issues such as family law and a modification of educational curricula to support social change.

However, to ensure a real empowerment of women, the state needs to coordinate its action with the other stakeholders. With a focus on children’s education, coordinated action could help change the perceived role of women in the society especially that biases start to develop at a really young age (around 3-5 years old). To make the message more relatable and legitimate, the State needs to work with local leaders such as religious leaders and other influencers that would help mimic good practices and expand the influence of adopted measures. However, working with the whole ecosystem does not mean working on improving the picture of women at the expense of men. It means to include men in the debate and to make them aware of the benefits of gender equality to the whole society.

4. In which ways can the private sector provide solutions to improve the way we invest in women?

Beyond understanding the positive economic externalities of gender equalities, the private sector could help improve policy making by building public-private partnerships in several fields relevant to women empowerment such as the digital sector by training women in coding, investing in vocational training, data gathering and rural areas.

Moreover, to ensure women’s economic empowerment enterprises could offer alternative and flexible working environments that take into account modern perceptions of responsibility sharing in a household. This could mean offering the possibility of work-from home for men and women for 1 day a week or a payed paternity leave on top of the maternity leave or a possibility of bringing children to the office 2 days a week… In addition to these internal policies, enterprises could also install principles of gender equality in their internal functioning by setting a quota in their management boards.

Additionally, enterprises can have an impact on stereotypes and social norms through marketing strategies and Ads. If the message of ads becomes more reliant on gender equality principles, stigmas could decrease.

5. You talk about role modeling and mentoring. How can it contribute to women empowerment?

This is a truly important point. Role modeling and mentoring are essential in order to instigate social change not only by empowering young women and raising their self-esteem and confidence but also by showing men the potential of women and allowing young men to grow accustomed to equality of chances.

On the smaller scale, mentoring can take the figure of small local initiatives working with women on increasing their self-esteem or exploring all the potential professional options available to them. This is the case of portraitists and mentors intend to help women grow more independent and strong.

On the bigger scale, initiatives such as establishing a TV channel featuring women from the region or the launch of a regional comity for gender equality regrouping influential women from different backgrounds could help increase the visibility of success stories. This would allow young women to identify with successful women and thrive to achieve their untapped potential. This is due to a crucial aspect of role modeling, it helps women not only explore their options in terms of goals but also in terms of ways and paths to achieve them.

Social norms can be changed and creating a virtuous circle for women empowerment from within the ecosystem and based on role-modeling, solidarity and mentoring can be a valuable step to achieve this.

 

Interview by Constantin Tsakas

This activity received financial support from the European Union through the FEMISE project on “Support to Economic Research, studies and dialogues of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership”. Any views expressed are the sole responsibility of the speakers.

Social Entrepreneurship as a means to support growth and employment in MED countries

An all-encompassing and sustainable growth model, that creates employment and favours social inclusion, is what South MED countries need. However, despite national efforts, unemployment and all types of inequalities remain high, urging for new approaches. In that respect, Social Entrepreneurship (SE)[1] can offer meaningful prospects and help tackle MED endemic issues since it: i. includes all groups and has great job creation potential, ii. is based on regional development, iii. addresses lack of diversification; iv. offers solidarity responses for all generations.

Aspiring to contribute in unlocking obstacles to development of social enterprises and in supporting social entrepreneurs, FEMISE has undertaken an ambitious effort in linking Social Entrepreneurship (SE) stakeholders in the Euro-Med. These efforts started while preparing its 2014 EIB financed report on Social Entrepreneurship in the Maghreb and continue with its 2018 report on Private Sector development (forthcoming). These efforts set the ground for an unprecedented multi-year strategy for the emergence of SE ecosystems that associates EU-MED cooperation communities along with key MED Social Impact and entrepreneurship support actors.

Ahead of the publication of its 2018 report, FEMISE interviewed some of its key partner actors to offer preliminary insights on what actions they see as priorities to facilitate cooperation between Social Entrepreneurship structures, on which international good practices could be transposable to the South-Med context and on the initiatives their respective structures operate to promote inclusiveness and social utility. Below are excerpts from three key EU-MED actors in the Social Entrepreneurship field.

Thomas Vailleux is a French social entrepreneur based between Paris, Lyon and Beirut, initiator and co-founder of Friends of the Middle East, a social enterprise for the understanding of the challenges of the populations of the Middle East. With a Lebanese team, he writes and co-produces « Changemakers in the Arab World », a documentary film about social entrepreneurs in the Maghreb and the Middle East. With MakeSense, he recently designed a three-week acceleration program dedicated to prototyping 10 solutions focused on Lebanese social entrepreneurs.

Thomas Vailleux: Not all South Mediterranean countries are equal in terms of political will for the development of social entrepreneurship. Nonetheless, I believe it is important to make sharing of best practices, feedbacks, networks and knowledge within the region a modus operandi. This collaborative operational methodology embodies the values ​​of Social Entrepreneurship. This would involve setting up a regional collaboration platform to foster exchange and strengthen cooperation between actors sharing common interests, in particular with a view to opening up to the regional market (through partnerships, exports, regional integration etc.). This platform can take the form of a web platform and a calendar of regional meetings targeting objectives already identified as key by actors such as the Lebanese think tank Beyond Reform & Development.

At the scale of support structures, innovative and effective methodologies have been invented or reinvented to equip social entrepreneurs and professionalize the specific and dual approach of a social entrepreneur (social vs. business). These methodologies are supported by high-growth support structures, cooperating with public and private domains, such as MakeSense international or Ticket for Change in France, whose founders have been awarded numerous times. Moreover, the introduction of legislative measures facilitating the creation of social enterprises and the introduction of tax-reductions for owners of SEs, such as in Italy and France, can be gamechangers. Finally, in « pioneer countries » of SE, telling the stories of solutions and project instigators can quickly become a means of federating communities of “changemakers”.

Friends of the Middle East is an association based in Paris and Beirut, one of whose objectives is to share another face of the region through the stories of the experiences of its citizens, including social entrepreneurs. Through our documentary film project « Changemakers in the Arab World », we seek to promote the inclusion of marginalized audiences by representing them in our film. Our partnerships with NGOs and local and regional foundations enable young people from marginalized areas to be sensitized with the aim of removing them from violence and extremism in order to bring them closer to the “faire-ensemble”. Our program of “projections-action!” in several countries is designed to involve the spectators at the end of the projection through workshops of problem-solving and connections with the actors of the ecosystem.

Shadi Atshan is a Palestinian entrepreneur and cofounder of Leaders Organization and FastForward Accelerator. Shadi led a group of talented professionals in establishing what has become Palestine’s largest entrepreneurship promotion organization (Leaders Organization or Qeiadat). He developed the organization’s portfolio of activities from zero to a portfolio of over $10 million USD in less than 8 years. Currently Leaders Organization is operating in Palestine, Jordan and Belgium. His work has contributed to the creation of over 45 technology startups. Today, Leaders Organization hosts Palestine’s only Technology Park “eZone”, Palestine’s first Startups Accelerator “FastForward”, Palestine’s first Social Enterprises Accelerator “SEA”, and the Palestinian House in Silicon Valley “PHSV” in San Francisco – USA.

Shadi Atshan : Enabling the facilitation for development of the social entrepreneurship structure in general, and in South Mediterranean countries specifically, should be prioritized on three main levels, starting from a broader sense and then narrowing in towards micro-level strategies. A broader strategy should be set to induce the idea of social responsibility, and creating benefits through profitable start-ups throughout the region. Once this strategy is incorporated, workshops and conferences should be introduced within the countries themselves, on how to create or target already existing social gaps within the economy, and create profitable solutions. Finally, the incubators, accelerators, and entrepreneurial-related associations should incorporate tailor-made programs targeting social entrepreneurship programs particularly, and offering the needed training and mentorship to induce the creation of successful start-ups.

Two main international good practices that directly filter into social entrepreneurship initiatives, and lead to the creation of new businesses in the South Mediterranean region are recycling and the transition into solar energy practices. These good practices would guarantee higher efficiency, lower cost, and higher sustainability on the long term for the region as a whole. In addition to encouraging young entrepreneurs to create new start-ups centered around social advancement within their economy. In order to enable such an environment of sustainability and creative thought, certain programs and aspects need to be introduced. The first is research & development programs to encourage the entrepreneurs to create innovative ideas and new products. The second is an international expert network on the ground, to help the start-up receive the mentoring and advise they need, and move to the next level. Finally introduce an Angel network in the region to invest in the entrepreneurs, especially through social initiative start-ups to allow them to expand and create long term benefits.

Social inclusion and utility is one of Leader Organization’s main initiatives, and therefore, one of the programs it undertakes is the Social Enterprise Accelerator (SEA). The concept emerged out of the lack of support to the social enterprises, the accelerator is meant to find sustainable solutions for this issue. A particular emphasis through SEA was directed towards women and youth with the ambition and potential to build sustainable social enterprises that impact their communities will be beneficiaries of an innovative and extensive support program. This project goes even further in promoting engagement, where women and youth from marginalized communities with potential identity issues of concern and importance to them (in society, politics, economics and the environment) develop their own social enterprises, and receive support. The program has provided training for over 150 entrepreneurs age 22 to 30, and has hosted and supported 7 start-ups, with a women participation rate of 42%.

Patrizia Bussi coordinates the Brussels-based European Network of Social Integration Enterprise (ENSIE), representing social enterprises and especially more than 2500 work integration social enterprises across Europe (27 members in 19 EU Member States, Switzerland and Serbia). ENSIE aims to contribute to sustainable development through different actions such as creating links between the job market and the social integration of disadvantaged risk-groups by improving their employment opportunities and productivity. During her time in ENSIE, Patrizia has also worked for two Italian social economy enterprises: the Consorzio Sociale Abele Lavoro and the A-type social cooperative Stranaidea. She was a member of the consultative multi-stakeholder group on social business (GECES), member of the GECES’s Social Impact Measurement sub-group and member of the Italian GECES group, Gruppo Multilaterale sull’imprenditoria sociale. She is now participating in the GECES as observer. Since 2014 she represents ENSIE in the Structured Dialogue with European Structural and Investment Funds’ partners group of experts (ESIF SD).

Patrizia Bussi: I think it’s necessary in each South Mediterranean country to search for the structures of social entrepreneurship and social economy that already exist, helping them in working together so that they can be visible and recognized at national level and so that they can cooperate to unlocking untapped potentials of their territories. Following these important steps, progressive cooperation has to be built among the structures of the whole South Mediterranean.

Identifying international good practices that could be transposable is not an easy task. There are some that have already shown their success such as the Incorpora program in Morocco, or some activities with social impact in Tunisia, launched by the French SOS group. These experiences confirm the importance of taking into consideration the territorial realities (economic, social, historical, cultural) and to adapt international good practices to these realities.

ENSIE represents, supports and develops within Europe networks and federations of Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISEs): efficient tools for access to, social and professional reintegration into the labour market and social inclusion of vulnerable groups. The 2016 ‘Impact WISEs’ study examined 807 work integration social enterprises (WISEs), present in 9 countries of the European Union and including 12,954 disadvantaged workers. The study identified that 48,5% of disadvantaged workers found a job in the same WISE, in another WISE or in the classic labour market while 16,5% became self-entrepreneurs or found professional training.

 

The multiple interviews carried out by FEMISE showed the need to support the development of an enabling policy and regulatory environment for MED SE’s. They also highlighted how it is essential to raise awareness and capacity of ecosystem stakeholders to support the growth of SE’s that contribute to value creation and employment generation in MED countries. They also emphasised the importance of communication and sharing of best practices.

Based on these observations, FEMISE mobilized its scientific community for its 2018 report on Private sector development that will include a chapter on Social Entrepreneurship potential in the Med countries. The chapter will focus on the range of tools (notably financial) to support and develop SE in this region and present potential actions on the EU-MED level that could support and develop SE. The report is expected to be available in Q4 2018.

Article by Constantin Tsakas

[1] For a Social Entrepreneurship panorama in selected MED countries, read the FEMISE-EIB (2014) report « Économie Sociale et Solidaire: Vecteur d’inclusivité et de création d’emplois dans les pays partenaires méditerranéens? ». Executive Summary (in english) available here.

Full study (in french) available here. 

Inequality, Intergenerational Mobility of Women Educational Attainment and Inclusive Policies

Intergenerational educational mobility refers to the extent to which education attainments are able to change across generations. If there were no intergenerational mobility in education, at all (that is, the intergenerational education elasticity is equal to 1), all poor children would become poor adults and all rich children would become rich adults assuming that higher levels of education lead to higher incomes. In the case of complete intergenerational mobility (the intergenerational education elasticity is close to zero), there would be no relationship between family background and the adult education outcomes. While education inequality can be thought of as an indicator of equality of outcome, the intergenerational education mobility indicator can be thought of as an indicator of equality of opportunity.

This paper emphasizes the status of women through the assessment of their intergenerational mobility and inequality in educational attainment in Arab countries. This is based on Barro-Lee per country aggregated annual data (1950-2010) on school attainment. Besides the gains from an extensive literature, the attained results show recent higher trends in education mobility with lower but persistent gender and female inequalities.

Also, intergenerational educational mobility is higher compared the ones assessed over most Eastern and Central European Economies (ECE). This appears also when estimating inequalities and intergenerational mobility for males and females by educational level. Arab countries have been experiencing an increasing trend of educational attainments that are higher most of the time for males than for females. Even with decreasing inequalities, lower equality is observed for females. In addition, an increasing intergenerational mobility is established. But, when related to inequalities, variations between Arab countries show high discrepancies. This implies that the social ladder of social mobility might be less operational than in the past with increasingly highly educated potential job seekers. The Gatsby curves confirm these results over most Arab countries but show their limited use for ECE economies.