Providing an empirical and conceptual context for the volume, this chapter of the book discusses patterns and trends in women’s social and economic participation in the region, draws together the themes explored in individual chapters, and offers policy recommendations and suggestions for future research. Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries have made good progress in educating women, whose schooling attainments often outstrip those of men, and in reducing fertility rates, but most of MENA women remain out of the labour force, and those who do work outside the home face a wide range of difficulties associated with their gender. Having so few women working is costly for the countries in the region, limiting their economic size and growth prospects. From a policy perspective, it is important to understand why so few women work. Reasons include discriminatory practices in the work-place and difficulty in obtaining access to credit and productive assets; women’s reservation wages and internalized gender roles in traditionally patriarchal societies; and discrimination by government policies against female market-based activities. The chapter seeks to understand the links between these causal factors within a coherent analytical framework that can handle both diversity and difference.
This platform is part of the Axis 1 "Strengthening the capacities of equality actors" of the Priority Solidarity Fund "Women for the future in the Mediterranean" funded by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and led by the European Institute of the Mediterranean, in the framework of the project “Developing Women's Empowerment” labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean.