CAIRO: In an effort to enhance and facilitate the creation and management of women’s enterprises, 30 non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) from 10 Mediterranean countries presented seven different projects for women’s economic development in a three-day EUROMED conference under the theme: “Enhancing Opportunities of Women in Economic Life Program.
Catherine Colomb-Nancy, EUROMED operations manager, says the program, which is organized by the British Council and funded by the European Union, aims at improving the integration of women in the labor market, by providing better access to financial tools and mechanisms and developing capacity building, education and vocational training for civil servants.
“The main priority of this program is to improve the enrollment of women in labor markets in Mediterranean countries, and in order to implement that, we initiated seven projects of vocational training and capacity building of two target groups: the civil servants of administration and ministries and members of NGOs, says Colomb-Nancy, adding that the second priority of the program is to facilitate exchange of practice between different NGOs and national authorities of the 10 Mediterranean countries with the collaboration of 25 other European member states.
The project focuses on enhancing and supporting the economic role of women in the Mediterranean region through certain NGOs that work on actual plans to achieve genuine development and create a database of knowledge about the roles of women, with concentration on the economic aspect in particular, explains Fatma Khafagy, a policy and legal expert and one of the conference organizers.
Michael Cracknell, a participant and the representative of ENDA, a Tunisian NGO, explains the objectives of a joint project presented with the collaboration of three other NGOs.
“The project we presented in the conference is called “Women Micro Entrepreneurs in the Mediterranean. It is taking place in Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon and Egypt, with four institutions which are already working with micro-entrepreneurs, says Cracknell.
There are two main objectives of this project – one of them is to strengthen the capacities of micro-entrepreneurs and the other is to help those entrepreneurs to implement projects with very small capitals, as they may be working on small crafts businesses or a small grocery store or even a hairdresser salon, he says.
The implementation of this joint project will take place in the four countries. “Each organization will be undertaking its own activities in its own country, but we will contact by e-mail to exchange experience and advice; also we might be meeting together in conferences to discuss methodologies that ensure monitoring and evaluation of the project, as the European Union, which sponsors us, will require from us a demonstration on how the money is being used, says Cracknell.
Cracknell explains how they started the process of the project, saying that the European Commission launched a call for organizations to propose projects to help poor women entrepreneurs in the Mediterranean region in 2005.
“We presented a proposal for the project and it was accepted, and we have begun implementing the project already, explains Cracknell.
As for the criteria for women who can be provided with NGO assistance, they must have already established their enterprise and it should be in need of support or enhancement and they must not have any access to any other sources of credit.
Nadya Khalife, a Lebanese participant and the regional gender project coordinator, says the project presented by the Lebanese NGO called “The Collective for Research and Training on Development Action, aims at providing training and capacity building through workshops and vocational training for women entrepreneurs.
She says that their strategies will focus on training and building women’s capabilities in economic literacy, knowledge of market forces and mechanisms, training women’s leadership and marketing skills, and establishing a network of communication and participation in policy dialogue and formulation.