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Together we can: ‘Leave no one behind’

Oct 25,2021 - Last updated at Oct 25,2021

We all felt the impact of the pandemic, though at varying levels. Yet, imagine how it has been for disadvantaged and displaced women already impacted by gender discrimination and bias. Being privileged to be close to programmes sponsored by Citi in partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), what used to give me sleepless nights during lockdowns was the thought of how disadvantaged women and their families were coping with and (even) surviving the unexpected, imposed hardship. 

According to the UNHCR, the number of displaced people has reached more than 80 million at the end of 2020, almost doubled from 2010 levels, and unfortunately, this number is increasing. And more than 50 per cent are women and girls, whom if not given the opportunity to live, learn and be economically empowered, will spillover to their families and communities, aggravating the crisis, and making it harder and longer to recover.   

A call to action is needed, in which the muted voices of the underprivileged should be raised and included within global and national policies. Research by IRC and Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) shows that hiring refugee women and bridging gender pay gap could contribute to $1.4 trillion per annum to global GDP, hence we all win. Policies should aim at addressing social, cultural and economic barriers, instilling needed systemic and long-lasting change.

Additionally, we are all in this together, and the collaborative efforts of governments, private sector, NGOs and financial community are important. Unilateral, one-sided contributions can generate some results, yet collective efforts will yield amplified impact. At Citi, we believe in the importance of partnership, and that our role extends beyond being a global bank, to being a global influencer and catalyst of a better future. To this end, Citi Foundation and the IRC teamed up in 2017 to support refugees and other vulnerable young people from host countries to build livelihood, beginning in Greece, Jordan and Nigeria, under the “Resilient Futures” programme phase I. In 2019, the partnership was renewed and expanded to include other cities in Germany, Lebanon and Cameron. The two-phased grant of $5.5 million have helped more than 3,000 youth to actively engage in host markets and communities. 

A third phase, under the Resilient Futures programme, which was launched in August this year and we announced it officially this week, will have a new focus on building business resiliency in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in the countries already included in the programme and expanded to include Mexico. The programme aims at supporting 2,100 young people, 50 per cent of whom are women affected by crisis, to overcome the challenges and emerge as more resilient contributors to their economies, communities and families. We also anticipate that the programme will help create around 400 enterprises, and restructure and expand more than 100 entities, creating more jobs and opportunities.  

At Citi, we have been supporting research, including the recent report “Women’s economic empowerment in the face of COVID-19 and displacement: Restoring resilient futures” to shed more light on this important issue and to help shape response and strategies, including ours. 

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but what happens if many of us march in it together? Then most likely we will “leave no one behind”.

Nour Jarrar is CEO of Citibank Jordan

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