“Creating economic opportunities for refugees and their hosts is a win-win solution”—Yannick Glemarec

Remarks by UN Women Deputy Executive Director Yannick Glemarec at the Brussels Conference Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region, Session 3: Supporting the region and the refugees–implementation of London commitments and the way ahead on 5 April in Brussels, Belgium.

Date: Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Thank you very much, Commissioner Stylianides.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

In London, we collectively promised the Syrian people, and the States hosting Syrian refugees, that we would invest in livelihoods and economic opportunities, to better equip refugees and host community members to provide for themselves and their families.

Access to livelihoods is an urgent priority for refugees – and it also relieves the severe economic pressure placed on host governments. Creating economic opportunities for refugees and their hosts is a win-win solution, for all involved.

While great progress has been achieved, in the aggregate, a year after the London Conference, gender disaggregated data reveal some stark differences in access to economic opportunities between men and women. Women’s rates of employment amongst the refugee community remain woefully low, limiting their capacity to rebuild independent sources of livelihood and avoid negative coping mechanisms.  

In Lebanon, UN data shows that on average, 70 per cent of male refugees in are working, compared to only 7 per cent of female refugees. Similarly, about 94 per cent of Syrian women living in Jordan were unemployed, as of June 2016.

We need to do more to ensure Syrian women and host community access to legal and decent employment throughout the region. UN Women advocates for an approach which:

  • Actively target poor refugee women with cash, social services, and new skills, to create the foundations that enable women to work;
  • Nurtures female-led micro- and small-businesses into formal registered businesses, in cooperation with host country nationals; and
  • Links women seeking work with decent employment opportunities, including those that offer flexible and part-time work.

UN Women is working with concerned governments to address some of the roadblocks to Syrian women’s and host community’s participation in the economic life of host countries, and we support specific livelihood programmes in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. We look forward to expanding our efforts in partnership with many of you here today. Together, we can ensure that refugee women and their host communities benefit equally from economic opportunities – and that we fully leverage their contribution as agents of change to enhance the efficiency of humanitarian response, support resilience and champion peace.

Thank you very much.