Focus Areas

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Women Participation in the Economic Sphere

Despite the clear links between labor force and economic growth, Arab women’s work skills are amongst the world’s most under-utilized resource as women are often still excluded from paid work, and many do not utilize their skills in productive activities. Due to the essential relevance of economics to all aspects of life, CAWTAR encourages policy dialogue on a wide range of topics concerning Arab women’s economic participation and strives to better equip women to participate effectively in national economic development by securing productive and sustainable employment.

Different projects and components of projects are being implemented to achieve a better integration of women in the economic processes.

Projetcs Women Participation in the Economic Sphere

Improving women’s access to health and legal services in Tunisia, Syria and Yemen, Egypt and Sudan

Status : Completed
Description : Achieving gender equality and countering deficiencies in access to services for women is a challenge for all states but particularly for those in the Middle East. Women in the region encounter serious problems of basic health care, educational access, income poverty and access to financial services (credits, business counseling and technical, vocational and managerial programmes), as well as suffering from exposure to violence, limited legal rights, and lack of access to justice ( i.e. courts, legal counseling).

Poor services and women-unfriendly environments discourage women from seeking advice or support or even from claiming their basic legal rights. As a result, many women and girls are not encouraged to use their capabilities on an equal footing with men.

Despite the increasing political commitment to improving women’s access to public services, and the growing number of legislative reforms aimed at achieving gender equity and a better quality of life for women, major gender gaps continue to exist as regards the equal access to basic services and the quality of services received by men and women.

Field studies funded by AGFUND and implemented by CAWTAR in Tunisia, Syria and Jordan observed that female civil servants are very often left behind when it comes to capacity building programmes leading to career promotion. Even though the number of women in public services has considerably increased, they are not sufficiently represented in decision-making positions and often lack skills to deliver good quality services. On the other hand, men generally have a limited knowledge (often ignorance) of gender issues. Consequently, they are not able to tailor gender-based services delivery strategies.

This project builds upon the lessons learnt and recommendations of the aforementioned field studies funded by AGFUND.


Alleviating Poverty Among Women through facilitating their access to and control of resources and services

Status :  Completed
Description : Project title “Alleviating Poverty Among Women in Rural Areas Through Facilitating their Access to and Control of Resources including Information, Social protection and Services”.

Short title : Empowering Disadvantaged Women to Access Public Services

Partner : OPEC Fund for International Development(OFID)

Covered countries : Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen

Duration : 2010-2012

General objectives :
Contribute to the empowerment of women in rural areas, formal and informal sectors through facilitating their access to and control of economic resources including information, social protection and services.

Specific objectives : The capacity of NGOs, local associations and cooperatives as strategic intermediaries will be build/reinforced to be able to:

  • Collect and analyze information on disadvantages women in their area, both in terms of needs for public services, their ability to access those services and specific difficulties inhibiting them from obtaining public services;
  • Use and disseminate relevant information as a strategic tool for change and empowerment and become the effective voice of the groups of disadvantaged women;
  • Train groups of disadvantaged women and women leaders on self-empowerment skills to be able to speak out and claim their right to public services;
  • Increase awareness among public agencies for better integration of gender equality and equity and social protection in the policies and frameworks related to public services, particularly of access of disadvantaged women.


Achievements :

  • Organization of a launching seminar with the expert teams from the 3 countries;
  • Implementation of a desk review in the 3 countries;
  • A survey on women´s access to services is implemented in two localities in Mauritania and Sudan;
  • Aguide of institutions offering services targeting women is developed in 2 countries.


Regional Economic Empowerment of Women Project (REEWP)

Status : Completed
Description : This 3 years project funded by CIDA and OXFAM Quebec aims to increase the participation of women (including women aged 18 to 35) in the economic development of the four target countries: the West Bank and Gaza strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia.

CAWTAR is part of this project as a partner in order to offer its expertise as well as to provide technical assistance in terms of non-financial services.

It is implemented in 2 regions in Tunisia; Wed Sbaihia (Governorate of Zaghouan) and Ain El Baya (Governorate of Jendouba) through 2 local NGOs under CAWTAR’s supervision. Advocacy for the empowerment of women in rural areas and capacity building of the local actors and stakeholders will result in an environment that is more conducive to women’s economic empowerment.

Gender Equality and Workers’ Rights in the Informal Economies of Arab States

Status : Completed
Description : The nature of employment is rapidly and dramatically changing around the world, including in Arab States. The increasing flexibility of labour markets at global and local levels has led to a rise of informal employment, self-employment and atypical forms of employment. This process, termed as informalization, has been accompanied by an increase of insecurity and poverty, particularly for women. Official statistics, laws, policies, and programmes, however, are not sufficiently capturing the informalization of jobs, thereby impeding the much needed extension of social protection to informal workers.

To fill the gap, the ILO and CAWTAR launched in January 2007 a regional initiative on Gender Equality and Workers’ Rights in the Informal Economies of Arab States. This two-year regional initiative aims to mainstream Arab States into the current global thinking on informal employment using a perspective of gender equality and workers’ rights. It consists of three interlinked components: research, knowledge sharing and awareness raising. The project focuses on select Arab States (Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, occupied Palestinian territories, Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia).

Gender Economic Research and Policy Analyses (GERPA)

Status : Ongoing
Description : GERPA is a World Bank/CAWTAR initiative whose purpose is to promote quality research work that is policy relevant and that can bridge the gap between policy and action.

The GERPA vision is to build on established scholars, policy making economic research institutions think – tanks and university department by providing incentives and mechanisms to make gender sensitive research a part of the policy discourse over time and to support it within so-called “Gender neutral” economic research.

Regional Barriers Assessment and Organizational Profile of Women Business Associations

Status : Achieved
Description : Within the framework of its mission to enhance the social, economic, and political empowerment of women in the Arab world, the Center of Arab Women for Training and Research (CAWTAR) is partnering with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) to conduct a research project assessing the regional barriers facing women’s business associations in three MENA sub-regions covered by the project: North Africa, the Levant and the Gulf.

This regional research project is part of a book CIPE is producing containing thorough analyses of the environments in which women’s business associations operate, as well as profiles of the successes of selected women’s associations, in the entire world. Each regional chapter of the book will contain two types of documents. The first document in each chapter will be a regional barriers analysis that outlines challenges faced by women’s business associations in the given region, as well as the positive role that women have had on economic development and political reform. The second document in each chapter will be an organizational profile of a successful women’s business association.

   Women and Decision-Making
   Women's Political Participation
   Women Participation in the Economic Sphere
   Gender based violence
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