Economic and Political Participation of Women in MENA Region


Main reasons for low economic and political participation of women in the region

Several obstacles and reasons of low economic and political participation of women in MENA countries that limit and constrain the participation and development process, from my point of view after reading the article (Capabilities, Opportunities and Participation- GENDER EQUALITY AND DEVELOPMENT IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA REGION)) I summaries the reasons into 8 main categories all of these reasons are compound and related to each other that Hinder the movement toward empower and increase women participation in MENA in general term. Furthermore, I will focus into more details of some reasons to identify root cause behind.

Low economic and political participation of Women – MENA Region
Main reason
Government structure Social and culture Education systems legislation and


·  Weak government accountably

·  Old way and old-school operation and function

·   Freedom of movement and mobility

·   Flexibility

·   Custom and traditions

·   Poor education systems

·   Low quality education methods

·   High rate of non- completing high schools

·   Weak enforcement law

·   Limited laws support female employment in private sector

·   Weak labor market regulations


Low economic and political participation of Women – MENA Region
Main reason
Public sector Private sector Economic structure and business ownership State current situations
·  Low growth rate of hiring ·   Low and discouraged job offer ·   Bureaucracy

·   Weak economic structure

·   Lack of accessing capital and credit

·   Fragile state such Yemen, Iraq, west bank of Gaza

·   Conflict and Sectarianism

Taking into consideration that the rate of female participation in economic and political field is significantly lower than the rest of the world (expect Tunisia) on other hand what is the cost of that? Lower competition in work field, lower GDP, exclusive of stakeholder in political process, increase unemployment rate and other impact here is Further detailed and other reasons such as

  1. Household and family duties

Traditionally in some of MENA countries house and child responsibilities are on women taking care of children and doing house duties, while man responsibilities is working and earn money, this is norm came from inherent culture. In way or other this limit the women participation in public life in general.

  1. Infrastructure and business environment

weak infrastructure that limit school / work transportation and poor entrepreneur environment and lows that encouraging women to start business.

  1. Weak implementation of laws to protect women’s rights

customary practices in some MENA countries still prevent women from exercising their legal rights (voting and enter election) (entering into business contracts).

  1. Access to high quality education

Accessing to education its increases in region but completing education is significant factor to entry into the labor market. On other hand scholarship and studying abroad is restricted in some culture of MENA countries.

  1. Marriage and working issues

I agree with Some experts who argue that female worker do not have ability to continue working after marriage specially in privet sector, on other hand private sector organizations still do nothing about working hours and other issues regarding marriage women employees.

The evidence available for Egypt and Jordan indicates that the vast majority of women in paid employment in the private sector leave work after they are married, whereas those who work in the public sector do not (Assaad, Hendy and Yassine 2012).

  1. Limited free movement and stereotype

Cultural norms and stereotype restrict some types of work considered that ‘inappropriate’ profession for women. Such as far cities workplace or dangerous jobs etc, while teaching is most acceptable profession and suitable for women because the working hours are compatible with motherhood and the role does not require travel or interaction with men.

A USAID (2012) study found that the majority of employed women in Jordan, for example, work in the education, health or public administration sectors, because of a perception that these jobs are more appropriate for females.

Recommendations at policy and program level.

To enhance and improve environment for increasing economic and political women’s participation may also be influenced by many factors that is not easily controlled by individual Governments, organizations or communities, but focus on the significant reasons and solve them the other reasons will element also (pareto principle 80%/ 20% rule) in my opinion the root cause of low women participation comes from social and cultural norms then government and economic structures and from this points I will propose some recommendations in policy and program level

Policy level

  • Guarantee high education and completing school’s rights.
  • Guarantee women’s property, inheritance and ownership rights by law and regulations.
  • Increase women’s share of seats in national parliaments and local governmental bodies. (Quota)

Program level

  • Enhance quality of educations systems with practical training in work market.
  • Give women credit and microfinance to start new business.
  • Create national award and Competitionyearly that recognize women achievement.
  • Strength the monitoring, evaluation, audit process to eliminate gender gap.
  • invest in transportation and communication infrastructure.
  • Build information network among cities, villages that help women communicate and motivate each other (women groups such as business women, craft women etc).


Extra indicators

Indicators Egypt Jordan Yemen
Female adult unemployment rate (% of female labor force) 23 24 41
Women’s access to finance programs

Data on a 1-to-5 scale (1 = worst score, 5 = best score)

3 3 1
Women’s access to credit (2)

Data on a 0-to-1 scale (1 = worst score, 0 = best score)

0.0 0.5 0.5





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