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Changing Laws and Breaking Barriers for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia

image of Changing Laws and Breaking Barriers for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia

At a moment when many countries of the MENA region are looking to accelerate economic growth and build more stable, open societies, this report argues that greater women’s economic empowerment holds one of the keys. It asserts that despite challenges some countries are facing in guaranteeing women equal access to economic opportunity, progress is underway and can be further nurtured through targeted, inclusive and coordinated policy actions. Building on the conclusions of a first monitoring report released in 2017, the report analyses recent legislative, policy and institutional reforms in support of women’s economic empowerment in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia and seeks to identify success factors that have helped anchor reform. Moreover, it delivers actionable examples and practical tools for policy makers to help them transform policies into effective actions for women’s economic empowerment.

English Also available in: French, Arabic

Women at work and in society: the state of play

Gender equality in economic activity can generate substantial macroeconomic gains. This chapter provides an overview of women’s economic activity in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, focusing on Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. It reveals some areas of progress, especially towards achieving gender parity in education, and representation in decision-making positions. Yet, for the majority of women in MENA, significant improvement in education is not translating into more economic empowerment. The chapter investigates the status of female labour force participation in MENA, including aspects reflecting women’s economic activity such as unemployment, occupational segregation, earnings, working condition, and entrepreneurship, including critical enabling factors such as access to assets and finance. Finally, the chapter looks at how conditions for women at home and in society undermine their agency and freedom of choice. These include restrictive and discriminatory norms and practices, unpaid care work, and difficulties in balancing work and domestic demands.

English Also available in: French

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