Economic empowerment


Women’s economic empowerment simply aims at helping women to have higher incomes, better access to and control over resources, and greater security, including protection from violence. Many international commitments support women’s economic empowerment, including the Beijing Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and a series of International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions on gender equality. In light of these initiatives and in addition, UN Women advocates a growing body of evidence that shows that gender equality significantly contributes to advancing societies’ economy and sustainable development. UN Women also engages with women most in need, particularly marginalized groups including rural women and women refugees.

UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States follows a two-pronged strategy on women’s economic empowerment:

  1. Individual and micro level: Identifying constraints that disempower women and entrench gender inequalities in each target society. At this level, the work focuses on financial inclusion, informal sectors, market structure, leadership and employment. UN Women also supports women organising themselves and in establishing networks/associations that represent their interests.
  2. Policy and macro level: Working with policy makers to support gender mainstreaming and Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB). Governments and authorities in the 17 countries under the UN Women Regional Office for Arab States have committed to empower women through a range of regional and international agreements (i.e., CEDAW, Arab Charter of Human Rights, BPfA, and the MDGs). 

UN Women regional strategy builds on the work carried out at the local and national levels. The strategy aims to support the regional integration through connecting multilateral, unilateral and bilateral actions. The strategy also aims at a greater understanding and knowledge of women’s economic needs to achieve gender equality. This is done through exchange on experiences and expertise, production of knowledge products and tools (locally, nationally, regionally and internationally).

See programmes:

  • Spring Forward for Women
  • Syrian programme

Spring Forward for Women Programme

What we do

The uprisings sweeping the Arab States region after December 2010 have dramatically created new momentum for women’s meaningful citizenship and political empowerment in a region with the lowest levels of political and labour force participation among women globally. The regional women’s economic and political empowerment (Spring Forward for Women) Programme 2012-2016 aims to advance the economic empowerment of women in the Southern Mediterranean region and to assist them to reposition themselves in the political and decision making spaces so that they may have greater influence in shaping the future of their countries in the on-going democratic transition while protecting their previous gains.   By addressing the barriers that have impeded the access and engagement of marginalised women in economic and public life, the programme is increasing the access and effective participation of marginalised women. The programme ensures that Southern Mediterranean countries receive capacity building, advocacy, and programmatic action especially in priority countries undergoing: transition and reforms, such as Libya, Tunisia, Jordan and Egypt; experiencing unrest such as Syria and in protracted conflict, such as Palestine.Read more

Citizenship, leadership and participation: new pathways for Arab women

What we do

The Arab Spring has dramatically challenged the socio-political and economic frameworks of the region. The central role that Arab women took within the Arab uprisings have created new momentum for meaningful citizenship and real political participation in a region with the lowest levels of political participation among women globally. The regional programme provides a mechanism through which UN Women assists women in the Arab region to reposition themselves in the political and decision making space and contribute to shaping the future of their countries in the ongoing democratic transition while protecting their previous gains.

Economic Empowerment of Syrian Women in Host Communities. Regional Project

The regional project aims at supporting the economic empowerment of Syrian women refugees through enhancing their economic resilience and self-reliance to enable them support their families. UN Women aims to work at multiple levels to respond to the specific needs of the Syrian Women inside Syria and in neighboring countries through provision of livelihood support, building on their own initiatives and skills as well as addressing vulnerabilities.  Therefore the overall goal of the project is to empower vulnerable Syrian women economically and strengthen their capacities to claim their rights through increased access to economic recovery opportunities, training and meaningful engagement in community life. It aims at empowering the target group and laying the foundational cornerstones for increased self-reliance and durable solutions for the ‘day after’ in Syria. Empowerment of women is a proxy to enhancing their protection against all kinds of exploitation and violence.

The project is seeking to address the following: a) create and sustain access to economic recovery opportunities for vulnerable Syrian women through implementing income generation activities for increased self-reliance and durable solutions in the host countries and for the ‘day after’ in Syria; b) build a positive environment for increasing Syrian women’s active participation in social cohesion efforts taking place in their communities, including meaningful engagement in peace building efforts; c) increase awareness on gender equality and women’s rights for an inclusive, equitable and peaceful society; d) Address prevention and response to violence against women and girls though awareness-raising, strengthening the provision of psychosocial and health services, and referrals mechanisms to service providers as appropriate.

The project is being implemented in five countries within two main outcomes namely economic Empowerment and enhancing women’s protection from VAW/GBV.

In Lebanon the project will support community centers in Akkar and Beirut to provide vocational training, as well as, support the establishment of women agro-business cooperatives to enhance Syrian women economic resilience and provide access to funds through cash for work. The Centers will also provide safe spaces for women as community mobilization forums and provide training on women’s rights and VAW/GBV targeting both men and women.

In Iraq the project was implemented at the Baserma refugee camp hosting about 3,485 (of which 1676 are women and girls) Syrian refugees. The vocational training initiative targeting Syrian women and girls is aimed at building the capacity of the target group by equipping them with market oriented skills and engaging them at the same time in income generation activities to strengthen their economic resilience.

A similar initiative will be implemented in Syria where cash for work community centers will be established in Homs, Hama and rural Damascus to strengthen women’s economic resilience through providing vocational training and agro-business initiatives. Advocacy campaigns and training on women’s rights in protection will be conducted to mobilize the community in support of women’s participation in the labor force and decisions that affect their livelihoods in general

In Egypt the project was implemented in partnership with National Council for Women. NCW provided a Community Centre in Giza for conducting vocational training for the Syrian females and vulnerable women in host community in tailoring, nursing, cooking etc. The center also provides   training on VAW and GBV as violation for human rights, and sessions on the impact of early marriage on girls’ development and welfare.