Women’s economic participation in the MENA region presents a unique paradox: Decades of investments in the social sectors have reduced illiteracy and increased the educational level among women. However, less than one third of women participate in the labour force, the lowest proportion in the world, and young women in particular lack access and opportunities.
As in Denmark, the labour market remains gender segregated. Women earn less than men and very few women gain access to management positions or within entrepreneurship. Unemployment rates in the MENA region continue to soar above those in the rest of the world and contain a disproportionate representation of women. Arab women’s unemployment is generally twice that of Arab men and the problem is particularly acute amongst young women who are entering the labour market in ever greater numbers because of their increasing participation in higher education and the rising average age of marriage.
The reasons for women’s low economic participation in the MENA region are numerous and complex. However, in broad terms, they relate for a great deal to social and cultural barriers or structural/legal hindrances.
KVINFO’s work with this thematic area therefore addresses a broad variety of target groups on different levels, including women entrepreneurs and human resource managers in private enterprises as well as young women graduates and trade unions.
The methods range from capacity development, training of trainers and mentoring to support to networking, twinning and exchange of experiences
KVINFO’s activities under Economic Empowerment take place in Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.