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Understand the Present Gender Gaps in the Arab World

posted on: Jul 17, 2020

Women protesting in Egypt

By: Arab America Contributing Writer

Women in the Arab world are evidently identified as minority groups in certain areas when it involves factors of education and the workforce. As Arab countries continue to progress toward gender equality, it is important to recognize these gender gaps to encourage participation and inclusiveness in these regions. According to the World Economic Forum, the gender gap in Arab countries is now just less than 40%.

It is important to note that Arab countries do certainly recognize women in their societies. However, male dominance within the region is considered to be the norm. This stems from many traditional aspects and cultural beliefs. In a predominantly male-dominated society, it is important to break away from these social barriers and take advantage of the potential economic changes with the inclusion of women in society. As Arab societies begin to work toward equal opportunities in health care, education, political participation, workforce participation, etc., it is important for the Arab people to be exposed to these social issues and advocate for change. 


Educational gender gaps in the Arab world have improved substantially throughout the years. According to the World Economic Forum, the gender gap in educational attainment has been progressively closing. A decade ago, Arab regions presented notably low rates of educational attainment for women. Now, due to easier access to education, there has been a dramatic increase in educational rates for women. Arab countries are working toward creating leadership roles for working women. 

Education serves as the main tool to work toward closing this gap between males and females in the Arab world. More women will begin to fill these gaps by enrolling in educational institutions. They are more likely to obtain job opportunities in the future. This essentially allows women to be more participative in the job market and eventually, working toward social and economic change. At the rate in which educational attainment for women is increasing, this is creating a positive correlation with employment rates also increasing.


Dubai, UAE

The workplace in Arab countries is more prominently male-dominated with a lack of involvement from Arab women. This is mostly due to societal factors that come into play as well as wage gaps. While there is a good amount of women in the workforce, there certainly is a large gap between the two genders. Social awareness is a huge part of making this change. Being able to normalize women going out into the workforce and holding full-time jobs will be a more encouraging pull in engaging women to work.

This may also include support coming from within households. It is important for women to be able to gain that sense of support from their family members as this will serve as a factor of motivation for them. Inclusivity toward women taking on more advanced leadership roles and opening up more opportunities for women to step forward will create a path for them to follow so that they can utilize their full potential. 

The Future

The path toward closing these gender gaps is a growing process. It requires a change in societal norms, policymaking and advocacy. Policymakers can work to implement laws that target filling in the wage gaps between both genders. This is going to help create a fair economic field for women to take part in order to prevent inequality. 

It is important for community members in the Arab world to start advocating for change within education and the workforce to be more inclusive toward women. Raising social awareness is a huge part of working toward and implementing change. Employers can help by creating a more balanced male to female ratio in educational institutions and other workplaces. Surely, this will allow women to feel more included and engaged.  

Above all, it will allow us to build a greater understanding on the importance of working toward solving this issue. Filling in such gender gaps will create a huge notable economical and social change in the Arab world. 


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