Job security for Arab Women in the work place.
A reflection of global trends indicates that women from Arab nations outnumber men when it comes to pursuing higher education degrees (Check data about School enrolment, gender parity index). Yet 43% of women from the Middle East are unemployed compared with the 22% of unemployed men. Therein, obtaining a University degree does not equate to obtaining a job, and if, a woman does manage to gain a position there is no guarantee of job security. As when an economic crisis occurs, women are the first to be made redundant. The reasons for the inequity in this situation is not fully understood. However, recent studies suggest a complex array of social, legal and economic factors are in place that are restricting the advancement of Arab women in the work force. One recently published paper states that traditional gender roles are reinforced early in a girl’s life at home, and within early childhood education programs. Thus, women have a pre-conceived idea that they will marry young and retire from the work force. Very high numbers of women will therefore drop out of the work force by the time they have reached marrying age, at approximately 25 years.
Equal opportunities, as an agenda for women’s rights in the work force is not unique to the Arab nations. It is a global challenge faced my women in many countries. The revolution for the recognition of the benefits to both society and a nation’s economy to be gained by employing and retaining women in the work force is yet to materialise.
Not all is lost. Many countries in the Middle East and North Africa are leading the way by offering a significant amount of employment opportunities designed specifically for women, based on their education, and most importantly, understanding the need to have woman in the work force that understand the purchasing power of other woman. Therein, technology and flexible working hours may hold the key to job security for the working woman.
More effort is required, more collaboration between government departments and the private sector is essential in order to allow women in the work force to reach their full potential. Education is the key element for the advancement of Arab women and its value cannot be lessened in any form. But education without access to the employment market results in lost revenue for the woman, her family and her country. Arab women need to be able to enter the job market and know that they are secure in their position, based on their skills and their work ethics, not their sex.