Women in Public Life

Gender, Law and Policy in the Middle East and North Africa

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Public institutions play a critical role in promoting gender-sensitive policies and gender equality more broadly, in the MENA region and around the world. Advancing gender balance in public institutions and public life more generally, including the judiciary, parliaments, and the political executive constitutes a major step towards gender-responsive policies and non-discrimination and serves as a key milestone in promoting gender equality. This report provides a comparative overview of the policies affecting women’s participation in public life across the MENA region. It examines the existing barriers to women’s access to public decision-making positions, and provides a cross-country assessment of current instruments and institutions to advance women’s empowerment in the MENA region. The report undertakes an analysis of the existing legal barriers for gender equality in public life, including with regard to political and economic rights, freedom of movement, labour law, family law, access to justice and gender-based violence and provides focused policy-recommendations to close legal and institutional gaps. The report has been prepared by the OECD, in partnership with Centre for Arab Women Training and Research (CAWTAR) and with the support of the Arab Administrative Development Organisation (ARADO) and covers the following countries: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.


Female participation in the labour force across the MENA region

This chapter discusses female participation in the public sector and the labour force in general, as core drivers of the broader competitiveness and economic development in the MENA region. The chapter is mainly based on the findings of the MENA-OECD Survey on National Gender Frameworks, Gender Public Policies and Leadership and CAWTAR legal research. The chapter shows that the public sector is the most prominent employer of women in the MENA region, similar to many OECD countries. It highlights the occupational and employment patterns of women, including their prevalence in socially oriented areas of employment and limited access to leadership posts. The chapter identifies barriers to workforce participation, including legal, institutional, economic and social ones, as well as barriers linked to political instability. To address these barriers, countries are putting in place a range of policy measures, yet adherence to international labour standards remains uneven. The chapter includes a set of good practices and provides policy recommendations to strengthen the current employment practices, including improving institutional frameworks to support gender equality, addressing gender-based discrimination in the public sector and reducing the pay gap.


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