American Univesity of Beirut

 SAWI Project

SAWI Project

SAWI Project

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​CIBL for Women is launching a new milestone in its mission to advance inclusive employer policies and practices towards women's economic participation across the Arab MENA region through SAWI project.

SAWI Project, which stands for “Support and Accelerate Women's Inclusion", is a two-year project made possible through generous funding of the US State Department and the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). We will partner with a transnational network of employers to develop, improve, and implement inclusive policies and practices for better recruitment, retention, and promotion of women.​

SAWI Project aims at developing national action plans for the responsible inclusion of women in formal economies across the Middle East and North Africa. We will work with a transnational network of economic stakeholders to create inclusive systems that foster dignified work for women in the region.

This project will emphasize on women's paid formal employment within the context of formal sector businesses (i.e., private enterprises) and government-affiliated units (i.e., public service units and state-owned enterprises), attending specifically to Higher Education, Stem, Healthcare, and Banking.  

Our focus here is to devise and implement successful ways forward toward locally responsible models for women's recruitment, retention, and promotion in workplaces across the Arab MENA, specifically, in Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia. We will partner with 80 employers to ultimately create a network of trailblazers championing inclusive policies that will work to improve women's economic participation in the region. This initiative's aim is based on five main pillars to foster inclusive workplaces, increase the number of women in decision-making, and provide economic stakeholders with tools and policies to empower women.

SAWI Project five pillars :

  • Pillar 1:  Comparing local day-today economic activities in the Arab MENA region
  • Pillar 2: Unpacking the regional​​ trends associated with global statistical indices
  • ​Pillar 3: Prioritizing and amplifying local examples of dignified paid work in formal economy
  • Pillar 4: Acknowledging and measuring women's informal employment outside informal sector
  • Pillar 5: Recognizing common differences and the importance of transnational networks​

SAWI Project Objectives and Approach

The five pillars that have been devised under SAWI Project focus on addressing the protracted and persistent problem of low levels of women's economic participation in the Arab MENA. We do so by focusing on creating inclusive workplace policies that can advance women's recruitment, retention and promotion in the formal sector. We will also hone in on women's economic contributions in the form of both formal and informal employment​​.

SAWI Project objectives:

  1. Map the current Recruitment, Retention and Promotion Policies in the Arab MENA countries.
  2. Partner with employers to craft concrete action plans for responsible inclusion of women in the workplace.
  3. Create a network of MENA employers championing inclusion policies that will work to improve women's economic participation in the region.



SAWI Project Phasing

The SAWI Project will cover five-year period, and will unfold as follows:

Phase One: 2 years
Focusing on employer policies and practices relating to paid formal employment of women across four sectors: Higher Education, Stem, Healthcare, and Banking
Phase Two: 3 Years
Focusing on employer practices relating to paid informal employment of women across four sectors.​

Rational behind accelerating women inclusion​

Statistics on women's rates of participation in formal economic activities in the Arab MENA are the lowest worldwide, with only 20% of women participating in the labor force (ILO, 2019). In addition to an estimated 33% of women in the MENA region who are subject to precarious employment conditions and work in lower-paying occupations (UN Women, 2019). Moreover, the Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI) identified the gender gap at a rate of 61.1% for the MENA region (WEF, 2020). Out of the ten lowest-performing countries on the GGGI, which benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, education, health and political criteria, six were Arab countries: 

  • Yemen (1)
  • Iraq (2)
  • Syria (4)
  • Saudi Arabia (8)
  • Lebanon (9)
  • Oman (10)

While we understand the big picture through national statistics, we lack gender-disaggregated and contextual data about the daily policies and practices of employers. Such context specific and local data will help us accelerate the process of women's inclusion. By collecting data and learning about the experiences of employers in the region, we will also be able to identify and celebrate trailblazing initiatives as well as to locally measure existing practices. Our project focuses on gathering insights to create an evidence-based foundation to develop customized employer strategies that are local as well as more inclusive of women in the workplace.​

SAWI Project Press Release


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