Despite tremendous progress made toward gender empowerment, significant challenges still face women throughout their lives. Out of all of the world’s children who are not enrolled in school, a full two-thirds are girls. Although women account for two thirds of all hours spent working, their collective income totals only one-third of the world total. Six out of ten of the world’s poorest people are women and girls. And less than 2 in ten of the world’s parliamentarians are women...
UNDP “mainstreams” efforts to achieve women’s empowerment, meaning that we integrate the objectives of women's empowerment and gender equality throughout everything we do. This includes efforts to increase women and girls’ economic rights and opportunities, promote women’s entrepreneurship, reduce gender gaps in control of productive assets, reduce the rate of HIV among vulnerable women, promote women’s empowerment in participating in decision making, reduce gender-based violence, provide security for women in time of conflict, integrate women’s local knowledge in protecting and managing bio-diversity and natural resources, and addition to building the capacities of women through knowledge-sharing and networking.
Women in the Arab states continue to face discrimination and inequality. The 2005 Arab Human Development Report (AHDR), Towards the Rise of Women in the Arab World, identified gender inequality as one of the most significant obstacles to human development in the Arab region. Despite the legal guarantees for women’s right for political and economic participation, stereotypical gender roles are deeply entrenched, limiting women’s employment and decision-making opportunities, which are still the lowest in the world. And despite substantial efforts by Civil Society Organizations advocating for women’s political rights, women still lag far behind men in terms of representation. Moreover, women in crisis situations face the double complication of being victims not only of disempowerment but also of violence.
Working against these disparities by partnering with countries on reform agendas is a core commitment for UNDP in the Arab world.
Regional Level Initiatives in Arab States
UNDP supports women’s empowerment and gender equality in the Arab States across programmes in different focus areas:
Economic, social and legal empowerment, and women’s rights: Center for Arab Women Training and Research (CAWTAR), based in Tunis, continues to achieve strides in the domain of training, documentation, and research to support policy formulation through CSO engagement. We also support pilot projects on gender-senstive budgeting, working with civil society and governments to identify opportunities and allocate fiscal resources for women’s empowerment.
Governance. The Programme on Governance in the Arab Region (POGAR) has launched a Gender & Citizenship Initiative to increase women’s political participation and raise public awareness about gender inequalities inherent in government legislation.
HIV/AIDS. The HIV/AIDS Programme in the Arab States (HARPAS) works with a broad range of partners to heighten awareness and build commitment to scale-up prevention measures to the spread of HIV/AIDS in the region, with much of the programming focused on women’s perspectives.
ICT for Development.The Information and Communication Technology for Development in the Arab Region (ICTDAR) programme has established the promotion of Women and Children's Rights through Access to Information (WRACTI) project, to empower women through comprehensively compiling and sharing with them information on their rights and the rights of their children within their communities.
Environment and Sustainable Development. The GEWAMED, (Mainstreaming Gender Dimensions into Water Resources Development and Management in the Mediterranean Region) has been established to support the countries of the Mediterranean region – including Arab States of North Africa -- through coordinated action and on-going research in this field.
UNDP’s work in the region on gender equality and gender mainstreaming has led to the development of the Regional Programme on Gender, which will promote women’s empowerment targeting three specific areas, namely water management, civic engagement, and employment.
Country Level Initiatives in Arab States
UNDP at the country level in the Arab Region has made strides in reducing the gaps in women’s empowerment. Examples include projects to promote the empowerment of women within national political systems, promotion of women’s role in dialogue in conflict situations, and programming addressing gender-based violence. These initiatives are implemented within the framework of the strategies of Country Offices, and in collaboration with national and international partners including governments, civil society, and other United Nations agencies.