The IsDB & ISFD Join Forces to Enhance Women's Employment

ISFD & GPP Partnership

The IsDB & ISFD Join Forces to Enhance the Future of Women's Employment with US$260 Million UN Women-IsDB Program in the Arab Region

Cairo, Egypt, 14 February 2024 - The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD) are making significant strides in collaboration with UN Women to inaugurate a transformative program aimed at curbing female unemployment across several Arab countries, including Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, and Tunisia, among others. With a targeted financial package of US$260 million, this flagship initiative aims to enhance women's access to equitable employment opportunities aiming to uplift women's employment rate by 5% by the year 2030.  

By way of background, substantial progress has been achieved in advancing the empowerment of women and girls across the Arab States region through concerted efforts to enhance policies, laws, and their enforcement. However, significant disparities persist both between and within countries. There is a growing recognition that eliminating economic gender disparities yields social and economic dividends, with estimates suggesting that empowering women could contribute US$13 trillion to the global GDP. In a region facing constrained fiscal capacities, high debt, inflation, and complex challenges such as conflicts, climate change, youth unemployment, and food insecurity, the importance of women’s involvement in the economy cannot be overstated.

Accordingly, the Women and Youth Empowerment (WYE) team of the Banks Global Practices and Partnership (GPP) Directorate, together with the ISFD, have been engaged in discussions with UN Women and other key development partners to agree on a program for tackling “Surging Women’s Employment in the Arab States by 5% by 2030”. Spearheading the engagement in this ambitious program, Br. Ahmed Diken, Manager of the Women & Youth Empowerment Division at IsDB and Br. Mohamed Maher Mannai, Lead Program Management Specialist at the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD) together with Sr. Rafif Alam, Senior Women Empowerment Specialist, and Br. Lagassane Ouattara, Senior Program Management Specialist, held a mission to Cairo, Egypt in mid-February to come together with key partners including UN Women, African Development Bank (AfDB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and IMF in order to discuss the technical and financial details of the flagship program and agree on the next steps. In this regard, the WYE Team is at the forefront of the technical execution, while the ISFD team leads the structuring design of a financial comprehensive package for this flagship program. 

It is expected that the program will target three key sectors including: Green Economy, STEM Economy and CARE Economy by providing financial resources in the form of line of financing as well as capacity development grants. The technical and financial details of this new initiative are expected to be completed in the coming months with the roles and contributions fully defined for each partner. 

This partnership marks a pivotal shift in the concerted efforts to foster an inclusive and equitable employment of women in the Arab World, setting a new benchmark for women’s economic empowerment.