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In 1999, during its EU Presidency, the Belgian government, building upon a prior initiative that was taken by the Portuguese government, ,launched a regional co-operation process, which resulted in March 2000 to the organisation of the Euro-Mediterranean Conference on the Promotion of Women in Economic Development. This conference was followed in July 2001 by a regional forum on the Role of Women in Economic Development: the Equality Dimension between Men and Women in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, attended by both government and NGO participants. The forum discussed national reports prepared by different experts from the Mediterranean countries that were present, as well as several thematic reports based on studies that were made on the subject of women participation in the labour market in Europe, and existing programmes for promotion of enterprises directed by women.

The 2001 Communication from the Commission to the Council and the Parliament entitled ”Re-invigorating the Barcelona Process”, emphasizes the need to take account of the social impact of economic transition at the regional level to complement measures already included under the National Indicative Programmes (NIPs) of the Mediterranean Partner countries.

Enhancement of the role of women in economic development is specifically mentioned, along with the implementation of best practice on linking training policies with employment needs. Greater attention is recommended to the sector of justice and home affairs, which includes seeking conformity of judicial systems, including family and inheritance law. The Regional Co-operation Strategy Paper 2002-2006 for the Mediterranean region recognises the need to respect in all programmes the crosscutting priorities of human rights, good governance, environment and gender”

The Regional Indicative Programme (2002-2004) states that whilst “progress has been made in improving civil and political rights of women in Mediterranean partner countries ways need to be found to promote opportunities for women in economic life, and to remove obstacles to using their resources for economic development”.

An international regional workshop was organised by the Belgian presidency of EU in Brussels on May 2003 where the participants discussed the findings of a report on the role of women in the economic life in the MEDA region committed by the EC to external consultants.

Last updated: October 10, 2007
This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication is the sole responsibility of the British Council and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.