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The Gender Economic Research and Policy Analysis (GERPA) is an initiative that was born as part of an expanded program named the Sustainable Advancement of Gender Equality (SAGE), The Center for Arab Women Training and Research (CAWTAR) based in Tunisia, and the World Bank created GERPA in 2005 whose purpose is to promote quality research work on women that is policy relevant. Gender mainstreaming - that is, inserting a gender component to mainstream research via a series of research competitions - is the approach adopted by GERPA to make sure that Arab research agendas address the particular circumstances of women.

Why Research on Women?

Gender inequalities are deeply entrenched in Arab societies. In spite of significant progress since the 1970s, the Arab region lags behind others, in terms of access to income and voice. Women account for only 6 percent of seats in Arab parliaments and an equally low percentage of business ownership and management. Indicators of education show that female illiteracy across the Arab region remains very high. In terms of health indicators, the ranking of Arab women is below average when considering both the per capita income of Arab countries and public expenditure on health. This pervasive gender bias in the MENA region continues to be one of its biggest obstacles to successful development. It needs to be analyzed, explained and attended to. We must understand the conditions of women in our region, the cultural factors that relegate women to the home and to non paid household and reproductive roles. They include restrictions on the mobility of women and the gender division of labor according to which limited types of jobs only are considered suitable for women. On the economic front, retrenchment of the state increases the cost of living, which force women into the informal labor market under very poor conditions to maintain the household income stable.

Are Gender-Sensitive Policies Possible?

A problem that is particular to the Middle East and North Africa region is the limited attention paid to how economic liberalization and reform affects women and gender relations. In the limited cases where researchers have focused on these issues, considerable gaps remain on many of the aspects. In many countries of the Arab region, legislature and policy making are implicitly assumed to be gender neutral. But gender inequalities are the product of socially constructed understandings of women's roles and rights that are reflected through institutions and through policy interventions. A further problem is the difficulty of access to what data exists from official sources. It is therefore important to support research whereby gender-specific data can be collected. Research questions must make specific references to women to ensure the research addresses their particular circumstances; and both quantitative and qualitative data must be collected to help identify specific gender issues to inform overall policy making.

The GERPA Mission

Gender-sensitive economic research is a crucial ingredient to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment by addressing and incorporating a concern for gender disparities into a country’s economic policies. To help bridge the gap between gender studies and mainstream economic research, CAWTAR, together with the World Bank, launched the Gender Economic Research and Policy Analysis (GERPA) initiative in 2006. GERPA seeks to mainstream gender-related issues into high-level research and policy analysis undertaken by top researchers. More specifically, the GERPA objective is to support gender research within previously “gender neutral” economic research agendas and research-related activities.GERPA provides incentives, training, and funding to incorporate the gender dimension within select high-profile policy research activities as well as to initiate new gender-related economic research of high priority.GERPA is supported by a grant from the Development Grant Facility of the World Bank.
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Last update October 22, 2017