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Launch of Regional Economic Empowerment of Women Project (REEWP)
20 January, 2010

AMMAN - In a bid to open up opportunities for women in the Arab world, the Regional Economic Empowerment of Women Project (REEWP) was launched in Amman on Wednesday.

The project, managed by Oxfam-Quebec and funded by the Canadian government through the Canadian International Development Agency, seeks to increase women′s economic participation in the region.

Addressing attendees at the launch ceremony yesterday, HRH Princess Basma underlined the need for greater efforts to empower Arab women in the economic realm.

"In recent years, the Arab region has made notable progress in improving women′s health and education, but there is still much to be done. Social empowerment has not yet translated into economic empowerment," HRH Princess Basma said.

"The unemployment rate of women in the Arab world is nearly twice that of men, and is, in fact, almost four times the worldwide level," she added.

Highlighting women′s work conditions, she said: "Too few women who are eligible to work are actually participating in the workforce. Many women, who are employed work in the informal sector, are without social benefits or job guarantees."

"In various parts of the Arab region, women see their opportunities limited not only by a lack of available jobs, but by narrow expectations of what women should do," she added.

REEWP entails a regional network of key partner organisations to exchange knowledge and expertise for policy work, support services, and support of initiatives for women′s economic empowerment, Oxfam Director of International Projects Management Marion Turmine said during the launch.

The project seeks to provide an enabling environment for sustainable economic development of women in the MENA region, she explained.

The Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD), the Palestinian Businesswomen′s Association, the Collective for Research and Training on Development-Action and the Centre of Arab Women for Training and Research are the NGOs involved in forming the network to provide an enabling business environment for women in Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and Tunisia.

The four-year initiative seeks to interact with various stakeholders and local and regional networks to bring about structural, economic and political change regarding the status of women in the Middle East and North Africa.

(The Jordan Times)