The impact of women on business is significant. Women bring unique perspectives, innovative ideas, and valuable skills to the table, helping businesses grow.
In fact, a 2019 study by the International Labor Organization found that two-thirds of 13,000 company respondents surveyed around the world said gender diversity in their organizations improved business outcomes.
In addition, successful women serve as role models, inspiring others to pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations and leadership positions while challenging gender stereotypes.
Despite challenges, women in the Middle East are making headways to enhance their participation in the world of business. This has empowered them to either rise up the ranks or start their own businesses, thus creating jobs and spurring economic growth.
Impact of women in the workforce
Deep-rooted traditions and societal norms have often limited women’s access to education and employment opportunities. However, there have been significant strides in recent years to address these challenges and promote gender equality.
In spite of the progress, there is still a notable gender gap in the Middle Eastern workforce. Statistics vary across countries in the region, reflecting different levels of progress.
For example, in Saudi Arabia, the female labor force participation rate reached 37 percent in the first quarter of 2023. On the other hand, in the UAE, women’s labor force participation rate is relatively higher at 55 percent.
Overall, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says the region has the lowest women’s labor force participation worldwide.
The impact of women in the workforce is immense. When women have equal access to education and employment opportunities, economies benefit from their contributions.
To enhance women’s empowerment and economic participation, several initiatives have been implemented. Additionally, various organizations and initiatives provide support and resources for female entrepreneurs.
Business opportunities for women
There has been a growing recognition of the impact of women in the Middle Eastern business landscape. Efforts to promote gender equality and empower women have created more opportunities in the business world.
There are many examples of successful female-led businesses in the region. Companies such as Bayt.com, The Little Engineer, and Mumzworld serve as examples of achievement and inspire other aspiring female entrepreneurs.
Furthermore, a report says that a total of 17.7 percent of Saudi Arabia’s women are engaged in entrepreneurial activity, compared to 17 percent of Saudi men.
Moreover, technology has created new opportunities for female entrepreneurs. With e-commerce and digital platforms, starting and growing businesses from home has become easier and more affordable.
As a result, there has been a surge in female entrepreneurship in the region.
Empowering women in business in the Middle East
Although the region still faces challenges, there have been notable successes in bridging the gender gap in the Middle East.
For instance, to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, UN Women Jordan has launched the Women’s Empowerment Principles Jordan Network. This initiative mobilizes the private sector to advance gender equality and supports the Sustainable Development Goals.
Similarly, various organizations have established training programs to empower women entrepreneurs and provide them with the necessary skills and support.
There has been progress in increasing gender diversity on corporate boards. In the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, women hold approximately 7 percent of board seats, whereas globally, the figure stands at 20 percent.
These demonstrate steps toward promoting gender equality and empowering women in the Middle East. And while there is still work to be done, these successes provide hope for continued progress in the region.
Measures to hone the talent of young women
- Promote gender-inclusive education. Employers and governments can ensure equal access to quality education by encouraging young women to pursue learning and development opportunities.
- Empower mentorship programs. Establish mentorship programs that connect young women with experienced professionals to provide guidance, support, and career advice.
- Encourage entrepreneurship. Create an environment that fosters entrepreneurship by providing resources, training, and funding opportunities specifically targeted at young women.
- Breaking down barriers. Advocate for legal reforms and policies that eliminate gender-based discrimination and create equal opportunities for young women in the workforce.
- Raising awareness and changing mindsets. Engage in awareness campaigns and initiatives that promote the value and impact of women in the Middle East.
By supporting and empowering women in the workforce, the region can see significant social and economic benefits, leading to a more prosperous future for all.
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