CPC - Caspian Policy Center


press release: caspian policy center hosts a virtual convening to discuss women’s economic empowerment, entrepreneurship, and gender equality in the caspian region with ebrd, dfc, usaid, un women, and regional experts

PRESS RELEASE: Caspian Policy Center Hosts a Virtual Convening to Discuss Women’s Economic Empowerment, Entrepreneurship, and Gender Equality in the Caspian Region with EBRD, DFC, USAID, UN Women, and Regional Experts

Author:Caspian Policy Center

Oct 7, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C.—October 7, 2020—Today, the Caspian Policy Center (CPC) brought together top experts from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and regional representatives who work on gender equality and empowerment of women in the Caspian region. The high-level roster of speakers talked about global standards for achieving gender equality, and their work with local governments and civil society to design and implement laws, policies, programs, and services that truly benefit women and girls in the region.

CPC’s Chief Executive Officer Efgan Nifti opened the virtual event with welcoming remarks.

“Women’s economic empowerment has proven to be one of the key factors in promoting economic growth, maintaining peace and stability, and ensuring an inclusive and sustainable environment,” said Mr. Nifti.

Charity Wallace, Managing Director of Global Women’s Issues at U.S. International Development Finance Corporation; Lubov Fajfer, Senior Education of Gender, and Vulnerable Groups Advisor of the Bureau for Europe and Eurasia at the U.S. Agency for International Development; Biljana Radonjic Ker-Lindsay, Associate Director of Economic Inclusion LEAD at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; Margaret Shakarashvili, National Consultant on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion of Georgia at the United Nations’ Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women; Nigar Arpadarai, Member of Parliament of Azerbaijan; Leyla Mammadova, Deputy Chairperson at the State Agro Credit and Development Agency at the Ministry of Agriculture of Azerbaijan; Saule Salikhova, Chairperson of the Council of Businesswomen of the Mangistau region at the “Atameken” National Chamber of Entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan; Dilorom Fayzieva, Member of Parliament and Chairwoman of the Committee on International Affairs and Inter-Parliamentary Relations of the Legislative Chamber of the Parliament of Uzbekistan; and Eldor Tulyakov, Member of the Gender Commission of Uzbekistan and the Executive Director of the Development Strategy Center discussed the barriers women face in the workforce and smart solutions governments and NGOs can deploy to give women access to economic opportunities, jobs, and services.

“Investing in women isn’t just moral or just thing to do, it’s smart economics. It yields one of the highest returns on investments and it improves our world,” said Charity Wallace.

“Addressing and promoting gender equality and female empowerment is a cornerstone of USAID development assistance,” said Lubov Fajfer.

“Notably it’s not the experiences of the conflict in these IDP settlements and conflict regions that cause gender-based violence, but socio-economic factors. That’s why in all the recovery plans, having very strong gender competency is key,” said Margaret Shakarashvili.

“This pandemic crisis provides an opportunity to address structural economic inequalities in existing systems,” said Nigar Arpadarai.

“In Kazakhstan, increasing business literacy among women is a crucial policy priority,” said Saule Salikhova.

The webinar promoted notable exchanges amongst the panelists on programs to increase female participation in high-growth sectors—traditionally dominated by men—and to support women in the workforce who choose to start a family.

The speakers also discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women’s ability to work and strategies to increase resilience to maintain their social and economic prosperity.

“The pandemic has exacerbated existing barriers and inequalities for women and for other disadvantaged groups. Since the outbreak of the crisis, the EBRD has put together 22 billion solidarity packages for all of our clients who are in need of support, and that investment is gender-sensitive,” said Biljana Radonjic Ker-Lindsay.

In addition to the social repercussions of lockdowns, such as increased domestic violence incidence rates, the economic impacts of the pandemic have fallen heavily on women. For some women, the sole source of income has been government provided assistance packages during the pandemic.

The panelists discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on exposing the political, social, and economic challenges women must overcome, and the role of the pandemic in increasing the severity of these already-existing issues. Several panelists highlighted the need to address women’s issues in pots-pandemic recovery plans to avoid backsliding on this critical issue.




The Caspian Policy Center (CPC) is an independent, nonprofit research think tank based in Washington D.C.  Economic, political, energy, and security issues of the Caspian region constitute the central research focus of the Center. CPC aims at becoming a primary research and debate platform in the Caspian region with relevant publications, events, projects, and media productions to nurture a comprehensive understanding of the intertwined affairs of the Caspian region.

With an inclusive, scholarly, and innovative approach, the Caspian Policy Center presents a platform where diverse voices from academia, business, and the policy world from both the region and the nation’s capital interact to produce distinct ideas and insights about the outstanding issues of the Caspian region.  

Learn more at caspianpolicy.org


For further information or to arrange an interview with our experts, please contact Irada Dolloff, Communications Manager at [email protected].

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