Presentation on theme: "Gender and Development in the Middle East & North Africa: Women in the Public Sphere Nadereh Chamlou Senior Advisor, MENA Cairo. June 10, 2004."— Presentation transcript:
Gender and Development in the Middle East & North Africa: Women in the Public Sphere Nadereh Chamlou Senior Advisor, MENA Cairo. June 10, 2004
Introduction Purpose of the book: Advance the gender debate by analyzing impact of gender inequality on the growth and development of MENA countries. Scope of the analysis: Focus on issues of female labor force participation as an important component of gender equality and womens empowerment. Definition of gender equality: Equality under the law, equality of access to opportunity, and equality of voice.
Main Messages MNA countries invested significantly in womens education & health but still low female labor force participation. Women face inequality in the public sphere and have a low FLFP which has high costs. Gender issues are ultimately about increasing the productivity and competitiveness of economies of te region and must be central to the overall policy reform.
Three Pervasive Myths 1.It is lack of education that is keeping the MNA woman behind. 2.More women in the labor force will increase unemployment and take away jobs from men. 3.In MNA culture, women do not need or want to work outside the home.
The MENA woman is beginning to be as educated as the MENA Man The MENA Region has invested significantly in social sectors and achieved impressive results:
The MENA woman is as educated as her peers in other parts of the world Progress in social indicators -- Shortfall in empowerment indicators
Empirical evidence does not support the claim that women s increased labor force participation increases unemployment
MENA s low female labor force participation has a high cost to society and families. High cost of living provides no longer a choice for women but to work outside the home – work is increasingly a necessity for the family to survive The highest dependency ratio in the world. Ratio of 2:1, compared with East Asia, where it is nearly 1:1.
MENA FLFP accelerated over 1980-2000, reaching 5% in the 1990s, but still remains lowest among all regions
MENA is utilizing only a fraction of its potential – more needs to be done to increase the demand side for womens FLFP
Female unemployment is highest among the more educated and women leave the labor force when married and with children.
Lower FLFP has high social and economic costs that can no longer be ignored Lower family income Egypt 25%, Jordan 20%, Morocco 17% Womens work is increasingly the ticket between poverty and middle class. It is also an important source of income for expenditures on better education and health of next generation. Lower per capita GDP growth For a subset of countries, GDP could have been 2.6% instead of 1.9% with greater female participation in labor force. Translates into billions of dollars of lost opportunity for the region.
Factors impacting women s labor force participation in MENA Historical: Growth Policies Of The Past »The oil legacy »Public investment policies did not increase significantly the demand for womens labor beyond traditional education and health sectors Economic: Low Growth affects both men and women »High unemployment pushes women more out than men »A host of micro-inequities in labor market laws/regulation (plus spotty enforcement) create uneven playing for women Social: The Gender Paradigm »Centrality of the family – defining roles in traditional ways »Male breadwinner model – influencing spirit and implementation of laws »Code of modesty – conditionality of access to public sphere importance of physical and reputational safety »Inequality in the private sphere – intra-household decision relations affect access to public sphere
What needs to be done – next steps Advocate that gender equality is not just for the sake of women but as central to promoting growth, employment, social security and family welfare. Integrate gender agenda into the New Development Model for the region (as advocated by other MNA reports). Key actions to center on: Consistency between constitutional rights and ordinary legislation. Regulation to create a level playing field for men and women in the workplace. Education enhancement to create marketable skills. Investments in infrastructure to support womens work and family duties.