Increasing women’s involvement in the economy a top national priority, says World Bank
Enabling women’s participation in Egypt’s economy is an “urgent priority on the national agenda,” the World Bank has said. The international lender says in a report on female economic empowerment that sustained economic growth necessitates an inclusive labor market, and with a female labor participation rate at 23.1%, women remain “an untapped resource” in Egypt’s economy. Much of the blame is placed on discrimination in the labor market — particularly in the private sector — while interviewees also cited family obligations, harassment on public transportation, and not knowing how to find a job as reasons discouraging them from looking for work.
Limited progress: The World Economic Forum’s 2018 Gender Gap Index shows that Egypt made progress on gender parity in several aspects such as education and health compared to the 2017 index. However, it still slipped one place overall in the index to 135 out of 149 countries, driven by declines in the economic participation and political empowerment rankings. Declining economic participation has been an ongoing trend over the past decade, with the proportion of women either in work or actively looking for work falling from 27% in 2006 to 23.1% in 2016.
Advice to the powers that be: While the World Bank commends the government’s commitment to economic reform, increased job openings will not necessarily lead to more women entering the labor market. It therefore recommends that Egypt build on newly-passed legislation to clamp down further on workplace discrimination, focus education on combating the perception of masculine and feminine jobs, and promote the business case for increasing female financial inclusion.