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UNDP and Canada support socio-economic inclusion and empowerment of vulnerable women in Tunisia

Tunis, 8 March 2022.

UNDP and Canada are committed to working together with Tunisia to promote the socio-economic inclusion and empowerment of vulnerable women in growth sectors, particularly green jobs. This new initiative will be implemented from 2022 to 2026 in the seven governorates of Central and Southern Tunisia (namely, Gabes, Medenine, Kairouan, Tataouine, Kébili, Gafsa and Tozeur) and aims at accelerating the transition to a green and inclusive economy in Tunisia.

The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified vulnerabilities and inequalities, with differing impacts according to the countries, the regions, and the population. In Tunisia, women have been among the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although they make up half of the working age population, only about 29% of them are employed, and more women are unemployed than men (nearly 24% compared to 15.4% for men in 2021, according to the National Institute of Statistics). They are often engaged in underpaid and informal work that exposes them to job insecurity. The pandemic has exacerbated this situation because, in addition to layoffs and loss of livelihoods that some have experienced, they also had to take on home duties. Generally, although the legal framework in Tunisia guarantees equal economic opportunities for all, the reality is significantly different.

Difficulties in accessing financing, technology, training, and markets are all obstacles faced by women’s entrepreneurs in Tunisia, while coupled with constraints related to social and cultural norms. Besides these socio-economic obstacles, there is also an environmental emergency, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic; this includes water stress, energy deficit, and desertification, which are weakening all economic sectors, in particular agriculture and fisheries, of which women make up 43%. Climate change remains a direct threat to the empowerment of women in Tunisia and their livelihoods.

"Accelerating the transition to a green and decarbonized economy, with a focus on gender equality, and the empowerment of women, youth and vulnerable populations is an imperative today in Tunisia to address this rise in vulnerabilities. It is therefore important to support national and local stakeholders in this process, and to mobilize the private sector and financial institutions whose role is fundamental to ensure a green and inclusive local economic development promoting women entrepreneurship" said Ms. Eugena Song, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Tunisia.

“A larger and disproportionate number of women and girls are vulnerable to the devastating effects of climate change. With this initiative, Canada is supporting the development of policies and the implementation of programs aimed at improving gender equality in Tunisia in environment and climate action.” Patrice Cousineau, Ambassador of Canada to Tunisia.

This new initiative will contribute, through an integrated and gender-based approach, to the promotion of green economy as a way of development and post-COVID-19 recovery for Tunisia. It will also contribute to the development of financial innovation through alternative financing tools and mechanisms.

This project is aligned with UNDP's overall mandate and the "Leave No One Behind" principle, with a focus on supporting Governments and the most vulnerable communities to build forward better from the COVID-19 pandemic and to promote a green, sustainable, and inclusive recovery.

For more information, contact:

Sandra Chemmam, Communication officer – UNDP Tunisia, +216 93 980 178, sandra.chemmam@undp.org

Nadia Gouta, Senior International Assistance Officer - Embassy of Canada to Tunisia, +216 29 141 595, nadia.gouta@international.gc.ca

UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet.

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