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.


Foreword and acknowledgements

While governments around the world are taking steps to advance gender equality, it continues to remain a global challenge. Women continue to have unequal access to opportunities in both their public and economic lives, including in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. To address this challenge, the OECD introduced an OECD Gender Initiative in 2010 and adopted the 2013 Recommendation on Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship. In addition, in 2014, the OECD Global Forum on Women’s Leadership in Public Life and the OECD report Women, Government and Policy Making in OECD Countries: Fostering Diversity for Inclusive Growth called for the establishment of guidelines for gender equality in public life, which would both address the need for effective institutions for promoting gender equality and for enabling gender diversity in public institutions for better and more gender-responsive policies and services.


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