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Monday, 16 July 2018

One in four youth in the Arab world is unemployed, and our failure to include women in the workforce is to blame:

One in four youth in the Arab world is unemployed, and our failure to include women in the workforce is to blame: As youth unemployment reaches 25% in the Arab world, the IMF is urging further action on inclusive growth: “The Arab region has the highest level of youth unemployment in the world, averaging 25%, and more than 27 mn young people will enter the labor market in the region over the next five years,” IMF Middle East and Central Asia Director Jihad Azour said in a speech in Lebanon last week.

An IMF report out on Thursday doesn’t mince words on what it sees as one of the primary cause: gender inequality. If the gender gap in employment was narrowed “from triple to double the average for other emerging markets and developing economies,” the region’s economic growth could have doubled in the past decade, gaining USD 1 tn in cumulative output, said the report. “Women in the region are three times less likely than men to be in the labour force, while the level of joblessness among young women is nearly 36%, rising to 62% in Saudi Arabia,” the IMF said, according to the FT.

Financial inclusion, education are key to inclusive growth, says Azour: “Financial inclusion, including the use of FinTech, is an important tool for enabling people, as approximately 70% of the adults in the region do not have bank accounts, he said in his speech. Improving fiscal spending on education, “which today amounts to only 11% of GDP in the Middle East, compared to 19% in the developing countries of Europe,” would also help bridge the gender employment gap, he added. His other recommended policies for improving employment for women are your standard IMF-prescribed policies of subsidy cuts, improving the business climate, and a social safety net.

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