In an article appearing on the “Agenda” blog of the World Economic Forum on May 21st, EFE Founder & Chair Ron Bruder writes about some of the obstacles that women in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region face when it comes to entering the workforce, and what can be done to overcome them.
With less than 1 in 5 adult women employed across MENA, Ron emphasized that there is much work that still needs to be done, especially in acquiring relevant data so as to better understand the problem. In the coming months, EFE will be partnering with Bayt.com and YouGov in an attempt to examine the differences in the expectations of employers and first-time female job seekers in hopes of informing appropriate and effective responses to this issue.
According to Ron, “The low level of female economic engagement reflects and profoundly influences the personal choices and family dynamics of many women in the MENA region.” Cultural and religious barriers often present significant challenges for women seeking to enter the workforce, with many choosing instead to stay at home and occupy more traditional roles. However, increasing the amount of women working would have a significant positive impact and a country’s GDP and stimulate immense economic growth, which is a crucial reason why programs like EFE have focused on training and employing young women.
While women in the region have made much progress, much more still needs to be done to adequately address the economic crisis in the region. Much of this involves capitalizing on opportunities that are available and providing funding for training programs as well as safe transportation and work environments in order to facilitate women’s continued and successful entry into the workforce.