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Statement of Sarah Poole
Deputy Director,
Regional Bureau for Arab States
United Nations Development Programme
On the occasion of
Side Event:
Behavioral Insights for Women’s Economic Empowerment

Lisbon, Portugal
October 11, 2018
Check against delivery

Excellencies, colleagues and friends,

We are so grateful to have you here with us today to dive deep into the topic of Behavioural Insights for Women’s Economic Empowerment.

I’m sure many of you are asking yourself, “What exactly is Behavioural Insights, and how does it relate to Women Economic Empowerment?”

Across the globe, people sometimes make choices that are not conducive to their own well-being or not in their own self-interest. Saving enough for retirement, eating healthy, investing in education – all too often we humans postpone intended actions to ‘tomorrow’, succumb to inertia or get stuck in habits.

Behind every policy lie assumptions that humans will behave rationally, and that this will inform why we act the way we do. But these assumptions are not always correct, and more important, they are often left untested.

But evidence shows that there is a lot more driving us than self-interest—and this has implications for development and public policy.

Enter Behavioural Insights… a school of thought that is being increasingly leveraged by policy-makers around the world.

Behavioural Insights is a combination of psychology, economics and neuroscience that examines how people make decisions.

Over the past five years, UNDP has been investing in applying findings from behavioural science in its programme design and its support for policy formulation. What began as a first experiment to support the Government of Moldova with improving the adherence rate of tuberculosis patients, matured into an emerging service line of the organization.  We have designed and scaled behaviourally-informed interventions to address environmental protection in China and Mongolia, to address gender-based violence in Egypt, Georgia and South Africa, to increase tax compliance in Moldova and Armenia and to improve our cash-transfer system to poor households in Bangladesh – to name a few.

UNDP and the Behavioural Insights Team are coming together again to support young women entrepreneurs in the Arab States like Hayfa, Hanane and Moneera - who are here with us today. These young women are all entrepreneurs and changemakers in UNDP’s pioneering ‘Youth Leadership Programme: Innovation for Sustainable Impact’, also known as YLP.

YLP was launched in 2015 to empower young women and men in the region and to nurture their creativity, strengthen their leadership skills, and support them in designing and implementing innovative initiatives to improve their communities, whether local, national, or global. YLP is based on the idea that young people are a key resource for solving development problems in the Arab region. We are thrilled that behavioural insights will begin to play a role in the support that UNDP provides to these young change-makers.

Hayfa, Hanane and Moneera will provide us a first-hand understanding of the challenges, particularly those related to gender bias, that young women entrepreneurs face. Their experiences will be at the core for our hands-on investigation into behaviourally informed interventions for this topic.

Today, I look forward to a discussion that helps us better understand the power of biases, stereotypes and prejudices, and how we can leverage them to provide better support to young women as they strive to become successful entrepreneurs.

UNDP is committed to embedding behavioural insights as a key approach in our toolbox to address complex development challenges.

I would like to thank :

  • HE Dr. Maya Morsy and the National Council for Women in Egypt for her leadership in exploring Behavioral Insights.
  •   Our YLPers: Alumni of UNDP’s Youth Leadership Programme: Innovation for Sustainable Impact whose stories will be the core for our work today on gender bias.
  • The UK Behavioral Insights Team, and today’s co-host, Evie Monnington-Taylor. For the past years, colleagues from the Behavioural Insights Team, have been working with UNDP and our Innovation Facility on the design and implementation of trials as a trusted partner.

It will be my great pleasure to learn from our young entrepreneurs and you, our distinguished guests. Let us explore together the intricacies of our way of thinking and how we might apply insights to design better policies and programmes for helping young women take full advantage of economic opportunities and make their best contribution to the success of the 2030 Agenda.

Now, it is with great pleasure to introduce H.E Dr. Maya Morsy, President of the National Council for Women in Egypt, and a beacon of strength to us as we innovate for our future.

Welcome, Maya and thank you for being with us today.

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