American University of Beirut

CIBL for Women launches the SAWI Project: a two-year program to accelerate women’s economic inclusion in Arab MENA Workplaces

​​The Center for Inclusive Business and Leadership (CIBL) for Women, which sits in the region's premier business school, the Olayan School of Business (OSB) at the American University of Beirut (AUB), is set to launch the SAWI Project​. The new initiative stands for supporting and accelerating women’s inclusion in the workplace. SAWI aims to work directly with a network of select local employers to develop, improve, and implement inclusive human resource (HR) policies and practices for the better recruitment, retention, and promotion of women, with a focus on higher education, STEM, healthcare, and banking across eight countries -  Tunisia, Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Iraq, and Libya. This new project will be led and directed by Dr. Charlotte Karam, director of CIBL for Women, as the principal investigator and a collaborative team of co-principal investigators comprised of Dr. Wassim Dbouk and Dr. Lama Moussawi from OSB, and Dr. Carmen Geha​ from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at AUB.

Made possible through a 3-million dollar grant from the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) at the U.S. Department of State, SAWI has three primary objectives. The first is to map the existing employer recruitment, retention, and promotion policies relating to women across the Arab region. The second is to partner with Arab employers to craft and implement concrete action plans for responsible inclusion of women in the workplace. Finally, the third is to build a regional network of economic stakeholders and Arab MENA employers committed to improving women's economic inclusion through dignified work.

This new project builds on the regional findings from CIBL’s work on The KIP Index Project, where an analysis of over a thousand employer surveys, hundreds of interviews with female employees, and hundreds of regional research reports was completed. With this base, SAWI will focus on strengthening the capacity of HR managers, and other organizational decision makers, to implement more gender-inclusive policies and practices across the formal economies of the region.

“Now is the time for collective action and for working in partnership with responsible employers on regionally relevant, inclusive HR action plans,” commented Dr. Charlotte Karam. She continued, “Through the activities of SAWI, employers will be better equipped and positioned to engage with and become trailblazers championing gender-inclusive human resource policies and practices in the region.”

By joining the SAWI Project, employers will have access to HR content that is locally relevant and useful; executive-level inclusive HR certificate program; the support of the SAWI team of regional experts and professionals; and a growing transnational network of economic stakeholders committed to women’s economic empowerment through structural changes in HR systems.​​

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