Women's Political and Economic Empowerment
Equality between men and women is a contributory factor in ensuring economic growth. There are several ways to create equality, including introducing quotas and decentralisation. Danish and Arab partners have common challenges with the aim of strengthening the influence of women in the public sphere.
Equality, and especially how to achieve it, is a topic of debate across the globe. Those focusing on the issue range from the World Bank to national states and grassroot organisations. Common to them all is a desire to find solutions that ensure women’s rights in both the private and the public sphere. The interest shown in the equality debate is partly due to the fact that equality is seen to have an intrinsic value, and partly due to the fact that there are clear indications that gender equality leads to economic growth.
Women in politics and in the labour market
In the Arab Human Development Report it is stated that women constitute a valuable resource for societies in the Middle East – a resource which is not being utilised optimally. Massive investments are being made in women’s education, but if these investments are not made use of in the labour market, economic growth will be detained. As a result several Arab countries have purely economical incitements to make women participate more actively in the labour market. And the objective is not only to make more females enter the labour market, but also to give women influence in decision making processes. Over the last few years, several initiatives have been introduced to increase the low female representation in politics. In Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco quotas have been set up in order to pave the way for more women participating in politics – particularly at a local level.
Danish experience of working with gender equality
In Denmark, women have been fighting to play an active role in the public sphere for over 100 years; thus as a result, accumulated a wealth of experience. Nevertheless, the target has not yet been reached, as formal equality does not equal actual equality. Work is still ongoing to increase women’s representation in top management positions and in politics. However, there is today an existsing and active women’s rights environment which is addressing common challenges with Arab partners through dialogue and joint partnerships.
Danish-Arab joint partnership on gender equality
There are several methods to achieve a more balanced representation of the genders in the economic and political spheres: Gender mainstreaming of national action plans; quota systems; decentralisation; management training; and positive media coverage etc. These methods are being utilised and developed as part of the Danish-Arab joint partnerships under the key focus area of ‘Women in the Public Sphere’.
The practical application of these methods is done through the bilateral projects ‘Engendering the Public Sphere’ and ‘Women decision-making and leadership in the Public Sphere’. In addition, the visibility of women’s expertise in Denmark and selected Arab countries is being highlighted through national ‘Who is She’ databases, enabling the public to gain insight into the listed female experts’ competencies.
Partners involved represent, among others, politicians and researchers whose work focuses specifically on increasing the level of women’s participation in the labour market and in politics by means of experience and knowledge sharing and through work experience exchange programmes.