Bringing Balance to the MENA Workforce

Bringing Balance to the MENA Workforce

August 21, 2013 at 01:08pm

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the number of women working in the labor force is about half that of the global average. Women are still facing barriers to building quality livelihoods and securing economic rights, including access to quality jobs, skills training, capital, limitations on mobility and discrimination in the workplace. The number of working women in the Gulf states such as Qatar, the UAE and Kuwait are higher,  but there is much debate on the reasons why women face challenges (see here, here and here, for examples).

The most recent data from the World Bank shows that in 2011, the percentage of Arab women 15 years and older working in the labor force was 22.9%, compared to a global average of 51.3%. This is the case, even as many MENA countries see more women in university than men.

To address this regional labor force imbalance and to unlock the full potential of the region’s economy, GE and Ashoka Changemakers launched Women Powering Work: Innovations for Economic Equality today. This online competition will award three prizes, each worth $25,000 in unrestricted funding, to the most innovative entries that work to advance economic opportunities for women in the region.

The competition looks for initiatives that enable women to achieve economic equality, strengthen their families and communities, and benefit equitably from economic growth. The deadline for entering is November 6, 2013. For more on how to enter the competition, click here.

In particular, Women Powering Work addresses issues such as barriers to economic equality, including initiatives that help end gender discrimination, increase access to capital and technology, or enable gender-responsive advocacy for women’s rights.

Participants in the competition also have the opportunity to engage with the Ashoka Changemakers community, which includes social entrepreneurs from around the world, impact partners, sector experts, and potential investors.

This initiative is just one of GE’s many global and regional efforts to help build dynamic economies and strengthen the labor force. For more on GE’s activities in this area, click here.

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