Experts discuss gender equality and COVID-19 recovery at the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development 2022


Recording of the plenary session “Building back better for gender equality: women’s empowerment in the green economy” held at the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development 2022. Video: Courtesy of UNESCWA.

Hosted from 15 to 17 March 2022, the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development (AFSD), is the primary regional mechanism for the follow up and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Arab States region. The event is organized annually by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), in collaboration with the League of Arab States, UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States, and other regional UN entities.

For the second consecutive year, AFSD held a plenary session dedicated to Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG5) on gender equality and women’s empowerment, under the theme “Building back better for gender equality: women’s empowerment in the green economy.”

With panelists representing governments, civil society organizations and private sector in the Arab states, the plenary provided a brief overview of the status of SDG 5 in the region, and the impact of COVID-19 on Arab countries’ efforts to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls. In addition, the session presented policy options and experiences from the region in ensuring equal access to opportunities in productive employment, particularly in innovative and emerging industries.

The hybrid event was moderated by renowned journalist and TV lead presenter Rasha Qandeel, and included the following panelists: Ohood Enaia, Head of Planning and Policies Unit at the Ministry of Local Government in the State of Palestine, Magued Osman, CEO and Director of the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research “Baseera”; Mohamed Naji, Professor at the Institut agronomique et vétérinaire Hassan; and Nicole Arian-Markazi, Head of Quality and Strategic Transformation Programs for the Middle East and Africa at Nokia.

Throughout the discussion, participants highlighted that Governments in the region must enhance their political commitment to gender equality and adopt gender-responsive approaches to policy making that ensure that women and girls have equal access to opportunities in emerging sectors, and adequately benefit from pandemic recovery strategies.

Furthermore, they stressed that the private sector must play a lead role in ensuring an equitable economy, and promising initiatives in the region can provide important insights into how to successfully fill this role.

Equitable access to technology and innovation was also highlighted as an essential step to enhance women’s and girl’s meaningful participation in the labour market, and allow them to thrive as workers and entrepreneurs, particularly in emerging sectors and green jobs.

Lastly, the discussion emphasized how inclusive public spaces and infrastructure are essential to ensure women’s full participation in public life, including in economic activity and that efforts to improve the safety and accessibility of public spaces must continue to advance in the region. 

The background note of the session is available in this link.

Watch the full recording of the session here.