Barcelona, 15th of November 2019 – The 13th edition of MedaWeek Barcelona 2019, the ‘Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders’, that will take place in Barcelona the following 20th, 21st and 22nd of November, will focus on the important role of women in the development of the economies in the region. The Mediterranean Women Entrepreneurs Forum constitutes the biggest gathering of women entrepreneurs from both shores of the Mediterranean.

In this year’s edition, the 11th Mediterranean Women Entrepreneurs Forum: “Unlocking the Potential of Women Entrepreneurs” organised in the framework of the EBSOMED project will feature roundtable discussions on the 21st of November in the afternoon and open debate on the 22nd of November.

The roundtable discussions aim to create a fruitful networking and exchange experience by sharing best practices particularly on the fields of territorial marketing, digitalisation and access to finance. The second day will be the occasion to debate on three challenging topics: opportunities for women entrepreneurs in digital economies, empowerment of the new generations of young women entrepreneurs and “role models” for young women entrepreneurs.

 Women play an essential role in the economic development of Mediterranean countries and the achievement of regional integration objectives. A group that, despite being increasingly present in entrepreneurial positions and management positions, still has a long way to go until it reaches a full inclusion, especially in the economies of Northern Africa and the Middle East.

In the countries of the southern shore of the Mediterranean, the female participation rate in the economy is one of the lowest in the world with an average of only 16% compared to 33% worldwide. A fact that causes the region’s growth to slow down because only through the inclusion of women in the labour market is it possible to increase the middle class and reduce social and gender inequalities.

The incorporation of women into the labour market could add 12 trillion dollars to the world’s GDP by 2025 and increase economic growth by 600 billion dollars annually in the countries of the Middle East and Northern Africa. An area in which, despite the great progress made in recent years, the representation of women in the labour market is still less than 30%, much lower than the percentage of men: 77%. Unemployment data are also worrying for the region, since the unemployment rate among women is 18%, reaching 41% in the case of the youngest.

To address this reality, one of the sessions of the ‘Mediterranean Women Entrepreneurs Forum’, co-organised by AFAEMME (Association of Organisations of Mediterranean Businesswomen), will discuss the new generation of young women entrepreneurs. The meeting is intended for any woman to participate in, regardless of whether she has just started in the business world or been in business for years. It will be an ideal platform to establish business relationships, share good practices and analyse the role of women in the economic development of the region.

The Mediterranean will not reach an acceptable level of progress if it does not focus on equal opportunities and guarantees the full participation of women in the economy. In the opinion of Anwar Zibaoui, General Coordinator of ASCAME, “the Mediterranean needs its best talent. Depriving half of its population is unthinkable.” In addition, he assures that “promoting a positive relationship between the advancement of women in the economy and GDP growth is a necessity to face the economic challenges of the region and take full advantage of the talent of the entire population and not just a part”.

‘MedaWeek Barcelona 2019’ is organised by ASCAME, the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, the Union for the Mediterranean (UpM), the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) and Consorci de la Zona Franca. A platform for business cooperation that aspires to achieve a healthier, cleaner and more equal Mediterranean, that breaks old approaches and builds new relationships between both shores of the Mediterranean.

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