Category Archives: CRTDA

Amidst New Waves of Protest, Activists Consider Economic Justice & Women’s Rights

Posted on 28 June 2013 by

By Olivia Alabaster, on behalf of WLP Lebanon/CRTD.A

CAIRO: On the opening day of WLP-Lebanon/CRTD.A’s regional conference on economic justice and women’s rights, delegates representing women’s organisations from Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Bahrain and Morocco met in Cairo to discuss the implications of Egypt’s current IMF (International Monetary Fund) negotiations for women.

An Egyptian woman worker stacks bricks at a brickyard kiln factory near the town of Mansoura city, 210 km north of Cairo in March 30, 2008 (cc) Nasser Nouri

An Egyptian woman worker stacks bricks at a brickyard kiln factory near the town of Mansoura city, 210 km north of Cairo in March 30, 2008 (cc) Nasser Nouri

In the opening plenary, Lina Abou-Habib, director of the Lebanese NGO CRTD-A (WLP’s partner in Lebanon), said that the theme was chosen as the IMF negotiations are an urgent matter, but due to the lack of transparency surrounding the talks, “very few of us are aware of the negotiations.”

“Attention and involvement in the issue is crucial,” she added, as “it does affect all of us.”

The first speaker, Dr. Salwa al-Antari, former head of the research institute at the Bank of Egypt, laid out the economic state of the country, and detailed how the situation has deteriorated since the revolution in 2011.

“After a revolution which asked for certain slogans, it has gotten worse. Why is this?” she asked, putting the blame on a failure of management and a lack of good governance.

However she also blamed the Mubarak government for the situation today.

“The revolution was the best proof that all the policies adopted before were complete failures,” she said “the majority of population before the revolution never felt the fruits of growth rates.”

She painted a stark portrait — a country experiencing high unemployment, ever slowing growth and high poverty.

After the revolution, foreign investment left the country – some $9 billion in the first six months alone.

The tourism sector – one vital to the country – has also suffered greatly, she said, thanks to the instability and also to deliberate neglect of the sector by government officials.

“It became obvious that there are methodological efforts to prevent tourism,” she said, citing comments from politicians and the recent appointment of an Islamist governor of the Luxor region.

She criticized the current Mursi government for looking to borrowing as the only solution for a growing budget deficit, and its 2013-2014 state budget plans, which was recently passed by the Shura Council.

Sales tax increases will most seriously affect those already struggling, and income tax rules – with 25% for the highest bracket – do not go far enough, and exempt only those who earn less than 456 Egyptian pounds a month, ($65).

To summarise, she said that any “IMF loan will impact upon poor people and women will be the worst affected.”

Business journalist Musbah Katub spoke next, and was skeptical over the worth of any IMF loan.

He described the ongoing negotiations between Mursi’s government and the IMF as a “bad game,” with the latter trying to “trap countries into indebtment… when they are unable to pay it back.”

“I believe the current proposal aims at making Egypt drown in more and more foreign indebtness,” he said, adding that when Mursi assumed office there was $34 billion of debt, a figure which has increased by $11 billion in his first year of office.

He also said that the only reason Egypt has been able to ride out these economic dark days thus far is all the unpaid work that women do.

Any IMF loan, he said, would see “women paying off high costs.”

Lastly, economist Dr. Ahmad al-Hajjar slammed the current government’s policies: “we are seeing the same policies as under Mubarak, but with less efficiency.”

The government, he said, was taking out this IMF loan to manage the state budget deficit, but it is holding the next generations responsible for paying it off.

That women’s involvement in the workforce has dropped from 29% to 23%, he said, was shameful, and were this to increase it would “help the entire country have a good productive system,” rather than merely relying on foreign loans which leave the country more susceptible to external meddling.

This Conference was organised as part of a regional programme on gender equality and economic justice including Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco and Egypt and funded by Oxfam-Novib. The outcomes of this event is expected to feed into a regional policy dialogue process aiming identifying strategies to support women’s involved in economic policy formulation.

From: http://www.blog.learningpartnership.org/2013/06/egypt-imf-women-economic-justice/

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Paid maternal leave: almost everywhere

This map illustrates general attitudes towards working women. It is clear that in most of the countries (in particular those in light blue or red) women’s identity is defined on the basis of their reproductive status and women have no real choice: either they work or they make babies! This is translated in the policies adopted regarding maternal leave: no paid leave or short maternity leave (as it is the case in our countries)

Women Economic Empowerment Portal Newsletter || Issue #5 || First half of February 2013

http://www.icontact-archive.com/HJfY9I0NQYTxJVhrcHbloD2hAojwT0K8?w=2

 

 

CRTD.A || “All for Gender Equality” Newsletter || Issue 0

صدر العدد صفر من نشرة “معاً للمساواة في النوع الاجتماعي” لشهر تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر 2012، التي تهدف الى تسليط الضوء على واقع النساء وعلى ابرز التطورات المتعلقة بالنوع الاجتماعي والمساواة بين النساء والرجال، في حقول التشريعات والقوانين، البرامج الانمائية والاجتماعية والتحركات النسائية والمدنية.

العدد صفر || تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر 2012


الافتتاحية: من يخاف النوع الاجتماعي (الجندر)؟

مع التداول المتزايد لمصطلح “النوع الاجتماعي (الجندر)” منذ أوائل التسعينات، كثرت التساؤلات حول مضمون هذا المصطلح، كما برزت حالات رافضة لاستخدامه.

رفض الكثير بذل أي جهد للاستفسار عنه أو محاولة فهمه واستيعابه وبات مجرد ذكر المصطلح بمثابة دعوة إلى “التسطيح واختزال الطبيعة البشرية”، “الى تشجيع اللاأخلاقي” و”الخروج عن الطبيعة”، و”استخدام  مصطلح انجليزي مستورد كجزء من المؤامرة العالمية للهيمنة الثقافية الغربية”.

أدى النهج السلطوي السائد والخطاب البطريركي المحافظ إلى تجاهل عقود من النضالات والحركات الاجتماعية التي قادتها النساء والتي دعت من خلالها إلى المساواة في الحقوق والفرص والمواطنة والحق الكامل في المشاركة في الحياة العامة.

لفت انتباهنا مؤخرا˝حدثا˝ بسيطا˝ جرى في لبنان، لكنه ذو دلالات كبيرة، برز خلال اجتماع نظمته احدى المنظمات الدينية المحلية وبمشاركة عالية المستوى من رجال الدين الموارنة لمناقشة “مفهوم النوع الاجتماعي (الجندر)”.

وبما أننا لم نكن طرفا في الحضور وفي المناقشات التي دارت خلاله، فقد استوقفتنا المعلومات التي نشرت في وسائل الإعلام والتي اقتصرت على ملخص الاجتماع الختامي الذي انتقد خلاله احد رجال الدين رفيعي المستوى، “مفهوم النوع الاجتماعي (الجندر)” و”أنصاره”، محذرا جموع المؤمنين من هذه الرسائل الشاذة “المخالفة للطبيعة” والتي تهدف إلى “خلق بلبلة في النظام الاجتماعي السائد”.

وعلى الرغم من محدودية تأثير مثل هذا الحدث، نتساءل لماذا يثير “مفهوم النوع الاجتماعي (الجندر)” القلق لدى المؤسسات الابوية التقليدية والقوى المحيطة بها؟

وما يثير الاستغراب أكثر هو أن تلك المؤسسات الاجتماعية أناطت لنفسها مسؤولية الوفاء بالحقوق وتحدي الظلم والتمييز والحد منهما، فيما شخصية بارزة منها تنبري الى التحذير وبشكل صريح من أي تغيير في انماط العلاقات الاجتماعية خصوصا˝ بين النساء والرجال وأي زحزحة للبنى الهرمية الجامدة، معتبرة أن ذلك هو بمثابة تهديد للسلطة الابوية التقليدية ومن شأنه أن يطلق شرارة قد تشجع على الدفع بتغييرات اجتماعية أخرى قد نكون بأشد الحاجة اليها. في هذه الأوقات العصيبة التي تزداد قوة التيارات المحافظة على الصعيد العالمي لا سيما في المنطقة العربية، يتركز الخطاب السياسي حاليا حول ما يحق وما لا يحق للنساء ان تفعله  بدلا من التوجه لمعالجة الأزمات الاجتماعية، الاقتصادية والسياسية المستشرية، وبدلا من تكثيف الجهود لوضع حد لحالة عدم المساواة على كافة المستويات.

وفي الختام، اذ نتوقع المزيد من المواقف المحافظة شبيهة بتلك التي أشرنا اليها، ندعو إلى رفع مستوى اليقظة والمعرفة والتضامن في مواجهة الدعوات التي تسعى إلى كبح تقدم النساء والابقاء على الظلم والتهميش اللذين يطالا الاكثرية منهن.

العناوين الاخرى في  هذا العدد، (يمكنكم/ن الولوج الى الخبر مباشرة عبر الضغط على احد العناوين المختارة)

● وقائع:
من واقع العاملات الأجنبيات (عن) عيوب نظام الكفالة المعتمد في لبنان … المكرس للاستعباد!!

● تحركات و مبادرات:
نحو قانون مدني للأحوال الشخصية
لبنان بلد “لا” يعترف بالمشاركة السياسية للنساء
حقوق المثليين والمثليات إلى أين؟
نظرية النوع الاجتماعي تحت مرمى سهام النقد…

● تشريع و قوانين:
التقرير النهائي  للجنة النيابية المكلفة صياغة مشروع قانون حماية النساء من العنف الأسري يراعي المجتمع بتعدداته ويرسو على خط الوسط
لجنة المرأة تعدل قانون الضمان الاجتماعي لجهة استفادة الزوج (من الزوجة)
لجنة الإدارة والعدل ترفع إجازة الأمومة من 7 أسابيع إلى 10 أسابيع

● برامج و فرص
إعلان نتائج مشروع نوارة…والحاج حسن يعد بتحويلها إلى مؤسسة قريبا
جائزة الإمارات للسيدات تلهم سيدات لبنان المتميزات

● العالم العربي
فيديو يكشف عن التحرش بالطالبات في الجامعة الأردنية
في اليوم العالمي للمرأة…عربيات يترحمن على ما قبل الربيع

● قراءات
الهيمنة الذكورية” لبيار بورديو التقسيم الجنسي للعمل وثنائية الهيمنة والخضوع
النسوية العربية…رؤية نقدية
العنف في الرواية والقصة العربية

للاطلاع على العدد صفربالكامل، الرجاء الضغط على الرابط التالي: http://crtda.org.lb/webfm_send/31

On poverty and growth | Arab CSOs in Brussels | Canada-EU free trade agreement

Issue 104 – September 28 , 2012

IFI’s plans against poverty; a new approach or more of the same?: The case of Togo

 

Togolese premier Ahoomey-Zunu
opens the workshop to validate
the PRSP II. (Photo: Secrétariat
Technique du DSRP)

Since the first decade of the 21 century, the World Bank and the IMF have promoted the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) as a brand new methodology, better than their controversial structural adjustment plans. But, in spite the change of names, the Bretton Woods institutions still consider economic growth as an unavoidable step in the fight against poverty, with little mention to the distribution of wealth. Togo is an example. Samir Abi, president of non governmental organization Visions Solidaires, analyzed the recently finished second Togolese PRSP validation process.
Read more

Arab CSOs warned Europe that its approach is dangerous for democracy
Arab civil society organizations warned that the European Union (EU) “more for more” approach and the economic model it promotes is inconsistent with the national paths towards democracy and social and economic policies that the region proposes.
Read more

Keeping an eye on the Bahraini regime, next task for human rights defenders
The regime of Bahrain accepted completely 145 recommendations and 13 partially out of the 176 submitted by other States to the UN Human Rights Council last May, as a result of the sustained efforts made by local and international civil society organizations at the session of the organ that is taking place in Geneva. But the Bahraini Human Rights Observatory warned that implementing the suggestions will require “international monitoring”.
Read more

Canada: Free trade with Europe could throw Ontarians out of work
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) that Canada and the EU are negotiating behind closed doors would result in as many as 70,000 job losses in Ontario and would undermine independent government decision-making, according to a new report produced by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ (CCPA) office in that province.
Read more

Greece “The rights of all European citizens are at stake”
The austerity package recently approved by the Greek government will “damage progress towards gender equality in the European Union” and “poses fundamental questions about sovereignty and self-determination in Europe, about people’s choices and what they imply,” wrote Genoveva Tisheva, managing director of the Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation (BGRF, focal point of Social Watch in that country), in an article published in the web site of the European Women Lawyers’ Association (EWLA).
Read more

 

CRTD.A’s Social Rights Watch|| Issue 21

صدر العدد الواحد والعشرون من “راصد الحقوق الاجتماعية” لشهر ايلول/سبتمبر 2012. تهدف هذه النشرة الى تعزيز المعرفة حول مواضيع المواطنة الفاعلة والمستحقات الاجتماعية، بحيث تكون أداة جديدة تساعد على دفع العمل المطلبي، تكريساً للحقوق الاجتماعية وخصوصا الحق بالتعليم والصحة للجميع وضمان الأمان الاجتماعي.

يمكنكم/ن الولوج الى الخبر مباشرة عبر الضغط على احد العناوين المختارة.

الافتتاحية:  بناء دولة المواطنة يبدأ من قانون انتخاب عادل

● قضايا تربوية
مراد يتهم اللجنة الفنية للتعليم العالي بالتعامل سلباً مع ملفات التراخيص الجامعية
..ووزير التربية يرفض التوقف عن منحها
إقبال كبير من التلامذة السوريين على مدارس عاليه والمتن
طلاب لبنانيون  في سوريا يعتصمون أمام “التربية” لإنقاذ دراستهم
متعاقدو/ات المركز التربوي يتهمون رئيسة المركز بسلب حقوقهم/ن


● عمل نقابي
غريب: هناك نية مبيتة لضرب حقوق أساتذة الثانوي
…ومندوبو بيروت: تجزئة الزيادة تفقدها قوتها الشرائية
رابطة الثانوي طالبت الحكومة بالتزام تعهداتها
متقاعدو الثانوي: اللجوء إلى مجلس الشورى للطعن بمشروع قانون سلسلة الرواتب
مشروع قانون لتثبيت المتعاقدين في المهني وفق مباراة محصورة


● تعليم خاص
المدارس الكاثوليكية تطلق شرعتها للقيم والراعي ضد الرضوخ للضغوط الإجتماعية!؟
منذر أنطون يستمر مديراً لإنجيلية النبطية حتى إيجاد البديل

● الجامعة اللبنانية
“المستقبل” التفريط بالتوازن التمثيلي في “اللبنانية” يوقظ الطائفية
لجنة لمتابعة تطبيق  قانون التفرّغ في اللبنانية
دياب يؤكد لمتعاقدي اللبنانية دعمه لقضيتهم/ن
هيئة جديدة توافقية لرابطة الأساتذة المتفرغين في اللبنانية
لجنة البناء الجامعي في الشمال تطالب ميقاتي بتوفير الدعم المالي للمشروع  

● قضايا صحية
“حملة حقي علي” طالبت وزير الصحة بالاستقالة لإخفاقه

● مستشفيات خاصة
“المستشفيات” تتجه نحو الضغط على الحكومة عبر المضمونين
…والاتحاد العمالي لفسخ عقود المستشفيات الخاصة الممتنعة
…والاتحاد العام للنقابات يرفض موقف “المستشفيات”

● مستشفيات حكومية
النقيبة تطلع على أوضاع ممرضي/ات مستشفى بيروت الحكومي

● الضمان الاجتماعي
“الهيئات الاقتصادية” لزيادة الحد الأعلى لاشتراكات الضمان إلى مليوني ليرة

● حقوق العاملين/ت
مشروع سلسلة الرواتب المقترح: تقسيط الزيادات حتى 2014
1137 عاملاً متعهداً وجابي إكراء بلا رواتب
عمال الـ”سبينيس” ينشئون نقابة
… والإدارة تصرف رئيس النقابة ميلاد بركات بسبب نضاله
“لجنة المتابعة للعمّال” تدعو المياومين والجباة إلى توقيع العقود
عمال “غب الطلب” في المياه ينتفضون أسوة بـ”مياومي الكهرباء”
تعاونية موظفي الدولة: رفض لخفض رواتب المديرين العامين في السلسلة

● وزارة الشؤون
برنامج دعم الأسر الأكثر فقراً  يوافق على مساعدة 33 ألف أسرة

● ذوي الاحتياجات الخاصة
اتحاد المقعدين اللبنانيين يطلق حملة وطنية للتنمية الدامجة
“الشؤون” أعلنت نتائج انتخابات الهيئة الوطنية لشؤون المعوقين

يمكنكم/ن الحصول على هذا العدد من نشرة “راصد الحقوق الاجتماعية” عبر الوصلة التالية: http://crtda.org.lb/sites/default/files/newsletters/ACGEN%20issue%2021_0.pdf

● للحصول على الاعداد السابقة من نشرة “راصد الحقوق الاجتماعية”، يرجى نقر الوصلة التالية: http://crtda.org.lb/newsletter/84

When Flexibility Hurts By SUSAN J. LAMBERT Published: September 19, 2012

AT first glance, women at the top and the bottom of the labor market seem to have very different problems.

Professional women at law firms, in academia and in the media complain about the punishing hours — and unceasing streams of e-mail — that make it difficult to make time for their families. At the other extreme, many women in retail, restaurant and health care jobs are underemployed; they’re looking for more hours of work (and ideally, regular hours) to support their families.

But both problems share a root cause: the incentives that guide businesses’ employment practices.

Rather than being long and relentless, work hours in hourly jobs, especially low-level ones, are often scarce, fluctuating and unpredictable. Sales associates and restaurant servers might be scheduled for 7 hours one week and 32 the next. Hotel housekeepers might work Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday one week, and then Sunday, Thursday and Saturday the following week. Schedules are often posted just a few days in advance. And women in hourly jobs are likely to have less input than men in determining their work schedules, according to national surveys.

The lack of stability is especially hard on parents. Unpredictable work schedules leave them scrambling to arrange child care and reluctant to volunteer for school events or to schedule doctor’s appointments. They make it tough to establish the household routines that experts tell us are essential for healthy child development, like bedtime rituals, homework monitoring and family meal times. Unstable hours also result in unstable earnings, a nightmare for parents on tight budgets.

Well-educated women have benefited from the growing gap between workers who have college degrees and those who don’t. But low-paid women have been left vulnerable by cuts to safety net programs. In 2011, nearly half of the households headed by single mothers who worked part-time or part-year were poor (46.8 percent), compared with 8.9 percent of households headed by single mothers who worked full-time, year round.

The different pressures on salaried and hourly workers arise from companies’ trying to maximize productivity.

Professional positions come with fixed costs (yearly salaries and benefits like health insurance) that are incurred regardless of how many hours the employee works. So employers have an incentive to have those individuals work as much as possible. One person is often doing the work of two.

The inverse is true in hourly jobs, where employers have an incentive to keep each individual’s work hours to a minimum. Employers want to avoid paying for overtime and, of course, many don’t offer health insurance. Their goal is to pay only for that amount of work that is necessary.

Employers tend to keep head counts high for low-level hourly jobs so that they have a large pool of workers who can be scheduled for short shifts at times of peak demand. Technologies like computerized scheduling systems and forecasting tools make it possible to predict and monitor sales and calibrate work schedules not just by the day but by the hour. Employees are called in or sent home as needed. For each of these jobs there are often three workers available.

Although over- and underemployment create different challenges for workers, the trade-offs are strikingly similar. “Availability” is now a major form of human capital, in both high-powered salaried positions and low-level hourly jobs. Low-wage workers need to be available at all hours or risk not having work. Professionals are expected to remain electronically tethered to their jobs day and night or risk forgoing coveted opportunities. Both groups of workers lose earnings if they interrupt their careers to care for family members — as women at all points on the socioeconomic spectrum are more likely to do than their male counterparts.

Improving workplace norms may be essential to achieving gender equality, as the Princeton professor Anne-Marie Slaughter suggested in her recent essay in The Atlantic, but it will not change the incentives that foster over-employment at the top of the labor market and underemployment at the bottom.

To do that, the government must reform the Fair Labor Standards Act. Enacted in 1938 — decades before women’s labor force participation became the norm — the law established a minimum hourly wage but did not guarantee minimum weekly hours for any job (though unions may bargain for minimum hours). This reform would encourage employers to make full use of their hourly employees instead of overhiring, at low cost, a pool of on-demand shift workers.

The law also did not mandate that salaried workers get overtime pay. Requiring overtime pay for professionals would encourage employers to minimize unnecessary face time and to hire assistants to reduce the demands on professionals.

Such sweeping changes to labor laws might be politically impossible today, in an environment that is friendly to corporations and indifferent, if not hostile, to workers. But they are essential. They would press employers to hire one worker for one job, easing work-life challenges at both the top and the bottom of the labor market. That would create more entry-level professional positions for college graduates and better-paying jobs to lift low-income families into the middle class. It’s what women want and what our economy needs.

Susan J. Lambert is an associate professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.

FAO accused | Arab CSOs in Brussels | Education in Canada

Issue 103 – September 21 , 2012

FAO accused of “promoting the destruction of peasant and family farming”

 

FAO director-general José
Graziano da Silva.
(Photo: FAO/Ozan Kose)

Relevant environmental and peasant groups declared themselves “shocked and offended” because the heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) called on governments to embrace corporations as the “main engine” for global food production growth. In a collective statement, the civil society organizations said the FAO is abandoning its mission by “promoting the destruction of peasant and family farming” and the “land grabbing”.
Read more

A week to rethink the relations between the EU and the Arab World
A delegation of human rights and development non governmental organizations from seven Arab countries (Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Morocco) is visiting European Union (EU) institutions in Brussels this week, with the aim of deepen the dialogue on the relations between both regions with policy makers and civil society representatives. The mission is organized by the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), in cooperation with EuroStep and CNCD-11.11.11 (Centre national de coopération au développement, Belgium).
Read more

University education in Canada becoming less affordable
Average tuition and compulsory fees for Canadian undergraduate students are estimated to rise almost 18% over the next four years, from almost $6,200 in 2011-12 to over $7,300, says a study released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
Read more

Egypt: Domestic workers create their first trade union
Officially registered with the Ministry of Manpower earlier this month, Egypt’s first labor union of domestic workers is the result of an initiative by the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (EACPE, focal point of Social Watch in that country), which launched a project to protect them last year.
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Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights renews its commitment
The Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR, national focal point of Social Watch) held a comprehensive seminar last week as part of its commemoration of the 18th September 2001, when Eritrean reformists and independent media journalists were kidnapped and disappeared since.
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Kenya: New technologies promote democracy, participation and accountability
Philip Thigo, 36, grew up in Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi. After studying at Princeton and working abroad, he is now back where it all began. “I realized that my skills were needed in Kenya and decided to go home”, he said. Now he works to strengthen democracy and poor people’s rights with the Social Development Network (Sodnet) , an NGO working to mobilize and channel social engagement, focal point of Social Watch in that African country.
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Workshop on Women’s Invisible Work: Taking Steps Forward in Egypt

 

 

Around 30 participants coming from various Egyptian organisations gathered on the 25th and 26th of June at the Association of  Upper Egypt for Education and Development (AUEED) to reflect on women’s invisible work at the global, regional and national level and strengthen their communications and social media capacity, within the framework of the Collective for Research and Training on Development – Action led project Sustainable Economic Opportunities for Women, currently being implemented in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Morocco.

Participants came from all over Egypt from the Future Eve association, the New Woman Foundation, the Association of  Upper Egypt for Education and Development, the Badia Foundation, the Egyptian Association for Sustainable Development, the Forum of Women in Development and the Evangelical Association for Comprehensive Development.

During two days, participants worked on the meanings of women’s work amidst political changes in Egypt. The first day of the workshop was dedicated to a short summary of what has been achieved so far in terms of research and round tables on the  topic of women’s work in the informal sector and of domestic work. Papers prepared by CRTD.A consultants Ms Rabea Naciri and Tina Wallace, dealing with women’s informal work in the MENA region and in Lebanon, were briefly presented, along with the debates that have been organised in Lebanon on mainstream indicators and the ideologies underlying them and on women’s informal work in Lebanon. The glaring results of these studies so far have been that women’s work at home and in the informal sector, while being absolutely crucial to household economics and society as a whole, is rarely recognized, let alone valued and accounted for. This is particularly oppressive to women as in the MENA region, the overwhelming majority of women work in the informal sector and/or at home, carrying the bulk of society’s reproduction, while official indicators still estimate the female activity rate at around 20%, one of the lowest in the world.

The issue of accounting for and accurately measuring women’s participation to the economy has been extensively tackled afterwards by the resource person coming from the WIDE Network, Ms Bénédicte Allaert who questioned in her presentation mainstream indicators that we usually take for granted, such as the GDP or what constitutes work under the ILO definition. Ms Allaert went on to demonstrate that these indicators indeed did not paint an accurate picture of economic realities, globally and in the region. Participants were then invited to break into groups and work on the concepts of women’s informal work, women’s work in the household, gender stereotypes pertaining to what is perceived as “women’s work” and the three roles women have to play (productive, reproductive and in the community) paid work/unpaid work, and women in the formal sector. The outcome of the group work was the very purpose of it: participants had different understandings of the concepts, highlighting that what is being measured and studied in the economy is only the tip of the iceberg, with most of economic relationships happening unnoticed and invisible.  This knowledge and research will serve as a basis to inform and influence future and global public policies in order to improve the protection, respect and fulfilment of women’s economic rights.

The role of neo-liberal policies and their impact coupled with the impact of the economic crisis on Egyptian women were also discussed. In Egypt, lack of employment opportunities and long-standing weak social protection and work conditions systems were only worsened by the decrease in foreign investment brought about by the economic crisis, as well as the decrease in tourism. The impact of that depression in the economy was first and foremost borne by women who had to endure massive losses of jobs, and carry on the majority of the housework load.

The second day was articulated around social media and on how can Facebook Twitter and blogs help raise awareness on this topic and allow for partner to stay in touch in between physical meetings. The workshop ended with participants drafting action plans to carry the project forward, with the ultimate aim to change not only policies and laws, but also mentalities.

Stay in touch as we will soon publish interviews with Egyptian women on their points of view on why the issue of women’s work is important and relevant!

Egypt Participants Working on Social Media!

…Wish them luck, as they’re working hard to promote women’s work and women’s economic participation!