The event, organized by longtime IDRC grantee, the Economic Research Forum (ERF), was intended to contribute to ending the significant political and economic disadvantages women in the region face. Over six sessions and a panel discussion, key international experts, regional academics, policy leaders and the media discussed and debated ways to overcome the main obstacles preventing the full participation of women in the region.
In his remarks at the opening session, Arjan de Haan, who leads IDRC's Employment and Growth program, stated that “Our aim is to make sure that research on gender equality is embedded in a broader social and economic analysis.
Topics included ways to narrow the gender gap and discrimination against women; women’s empowerment within the household and in the labour market; women entrepreneurship; gender and social protection policies; and stereotypes surrounding the relationship between gender, religion, and politics. Participants learned about new data on women’s participation in the region, and of the experience of successful models in Latin America and Asia.
Bruce Currie-Alder, IDRC's Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, moderated a policy dialogue on how to better use knowledge and data. Participants highlighted the need to challenge certain social norms, to counter occupational sex-segregation that impede economic growth, and called for further investment in research into under-funded issues in the region.