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Two-Thirds of Young Arab Women Remain Out of Workforce
About one in three young Arab women between the ages of 23 and 29 participate in their country's labor force versus about eight in 10 young Arab men. This gender gap is generally consistent across the 22 Arab countries and territories Gallup surveyed in 2011, but young women's labor force participation is slightly higher in low-income countries than in higher income countries.
These findings are based on a new Silatech Index report, "Workforce Participation Linked to Wellbeing Differences Among Young Arab Women," which examines how young women's workforce participation is related to their life evaluations, emotional state, and economic optimism.
In many Arab countries, chronic job shortages combined with cultural factors, such as pressure on employers to give young men jobs that enable them to marry and start families, may limit employment opportunities for young women. The World Bank recently reported that the Middle East and North Africa region continues to have the lowest female workforce participation rate of any global region.
These broad gender gaps persist despite impressive strides in many Arab countries toward gender equity in education. In high-income countries, women aged 23 to 29 are just as highly educated as their male counterparts and are more likely than young men to have a tertiary education (22% vs. 16%, respectively). In middle-income and low-income countries, young women are less likely than young men to have more than a primary education.