Women and Enterprises: Accelerating the Pace of Economic Growth and Social Progress

Women in Egypt remain underrepresented in the labour market and in particular in the private sector. They had a labour force participation rate of 22.8%, with an unemployment rate of 25.0% according to statistics from ILO KILM 2015 and the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics in Egypt (CAPMAS). In this context, a rise in female employment could significantly boost growth and per capita income

Cairo (ILO News): The International Labour Organization is organizing in collaboration with the National Council for Women (NCW), the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) and the Industrial Modernization Center (IMC) a Conference on Women and Enterprises. It is conducted within the framework of the project “The Way forward after the revolution: Decent Work for Women in Egypt and Tunisia” project funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland in cooperation with the ILO Bureau for Employers Activities (ACT/EMP) and the ILO Gender, Equality, and Diversity Branch (GED).

The ILO, as the UN agency specializing in the world of work, focuses its expertise on issues related to equal opportunities and treatment for all women and men in the world of work, and on eliminating discrimination based on gender. It also advocates for a greater role for national business organizations, which can assist their member companies with putting in place policies and measures to recruit, retain and promote talent.

The concern for women’s economic empowerment is reported to be a priority on the agenda of the Government of Egypt and social partners as well as non-governmental organisations, and the international community. Despite the various efforts and as described above, women are disproportionately represented in the workforce and the business arena. As women in Egypt still struggle to take their rightful place in the economy, a targeted and sustainable approach is required to increase the economic empowerment of women in Egypt. Egypt’s Vision 2030 is to increase the average annual GDP growth rate to 7%. With only one in four women who are economically active, such an ambitious increase in economic activity will only be achieved if Egypt mobilises the productive potential of a much larger share of its working age women.

The objective of the conference is to explore ways to increase women’s participation in the labour market as a way to accelerate growth and achieve social justice. This can be done through a double action:
  1. Improving the working conditions of women in the private sector, and 
  2. Eliminating the gender-gap in entrepreneurship. 

The Conference will bring together Egyptian policy makers and leading businesswomen and businessmen from Egypt and abroad to tackle the challenges faced by women, share experiences, and good practices and discuss the way forward.
During the first day, the Conference will discuss the importance of female participation in the labour market for business as source of equality and economic growth as well as the role of business in promoting such participation.

The second day will tackle the gender-responsiveness of the business environment and will include the presentation and discussion of the results and recommendations of the ILO “Assessment of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Development Framework Conditions in Egypt” prepared in cooperation with the Industrial Modernization Centre (IMC).