ROME, APRIL 5 – “It is wise and strategic to empower women in a world that is shaken by emergencies and instability” said Director General of Italian Cooperation, Pietro Sebastiani, at the “Access to finance: challenges and good practices to support women in business in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Marocco, Palestine and Tunisia” conference, organized by the UN Agency for Industrial Development (UNIDO).
Women, Sebastiani remarked, “are able to promote solutions” on different levels. “It is thus wise to finance them. The UNIDO initiative “aims to improve women’s potential and boost economic growth”. In this framework, “the involvement of women’s associations is an important element”. Women entrepreneurs “face barriers like poor access to credit and insufficient training. It is crucial to work on replacing such stereotypes with educational campaigns”.
Women entrepreneurs “will be able to pave the way for a better future”, Sebastiani said. The road to affirming full gender equality and women empowerment is a long one, however thanks to projects like UNIDO’s ‘Promotion of women’s empowerment for inclusive and sustainable industrial development in the region of North Africa and the Middle East’, financed by Italian cooperation, we are beginning to see encouraging results. “Our mission, alongside UNIDO, is to help women entrepreneurs in the region to reach their full potential”, the Director concluded.
The round table convened informally on occasion of the of the Steering Committee’s annual technical reunion of the UNIDO project “Promoting female entrepreneurship for an inclusive and sustainable industrial development in the MENA region” which, financed by Italian Cooperation through UNIDO for a total amount of 942 thousand euro, aims to engage the highest possible number of women in contributing, as entrepreneurs, to sustainable development in the regions of the Middle East and Northern African (MENA).
Six countries are involved: Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia. Director Sebastiani took part in the opening session of the round table whose participants included Lebanese Minister of Industry, Hussein El Hajj Hassan, Vice Secretary General of the Mediterranean Union, Delphine Borione, and Director of Aics Laura Frigenti. Following the opening session, Sebastianini and the Lebanese Minister took part in a bilateral meeting where they mostly discussed Italian Cooperation initiatives aimed at the realization of industrial centers. Italy supports said initiatives with a 500 thousand euro contribution and a 7 million euro credit assistance to UNIDO.