Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development

Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development

Women in the Workforce: an Unmet potential

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

In the last decade the MENA region decreased the gender gap significantly within the area of human development. Women have gained increased access to both education and healthcare, even excelling beyond men in achieving higher education. The increase in education equity is the direct result of governments’ dedication to funding public education. Interestingly, this has caused a “‘reverse’ gender gap in the region with girls outperforming boys in grade 4 math results, a trend that generally continues into grade 8,” which is unlike the rest of the globe. Particularly, in Jordan the literacy rate has remained at %99 for women for several years. However, the improvements in education and health have surprisingly not coincided with an increase in female participation in the labor force. Regionally, only %25 of females above the age of 15 are active in the work force, compared to %78 of males. A disconnect between higher levels of education and increased economic participation indicates that other forces impede on females’ activity in the economy. These other factors such as, “socio-cultural, structural, institutional and legal levels must be concurrently resolved,” in order to garner full economic equity in the MENA region. Recent discussions have concluded that increasing the participation of women in the economy is imperative for increased GDP within the region, beneficial for the global GDP, and for furthering the empowerment of women. Thus, beyond being a moral and social cause the lack of economic equity globally will directly affect the efficiency and quality of the global market.

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