Women in MENA workforce could hike GDP by $2 trillion: Study

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Increased female employment could increase GDP across the MENA region by 57 percent to $2 trillion, the PwC Middle East study finds.
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  • World Bank data indicates only 40% of working-age women in the GCC are employed, even though they are increasingly better educated
  • Young women face an “expectations vs. reality” gap between their ambitions and their experiences of employers

Increased female employment could increase GDP across the MENA region by 57 percent to $2 trillion, the PwC Middle East found out in its MENA Women in Work Survey 2022. 

The survey highlights the career aspirations of young women and the challenges they face in achieving their ambitions across the Middle East and North Africa region and the key measures needed by MENA employers to unleash women’s potential in workplaces. 

The study was launched in conjunction with the Middle East Action for Diversity Council, a council of CEOs from multinationals in the region with a clear aim of leading by example as well as rallying like-minded organisations to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace by working together and committing to change.

While young MENA women are more likely than ever to be highly educated, their employment prospects and career opportunities leave room for improvement, the study reveals. This is highlighted by the “expectations vs. reality” gap that young women face, where they face a disconnect between their expectations and lived experiences of employers. 

Around 94 percent of the surveyed women favoured “work-life balance” and “training and development opportunities” as their most valued employer characteristic. 

However, only 62 percent of women agree that their employer provides a satisfactory “work-life balance” and “training & development” opportunities.

“Identifying, developing, promoting and retaining women is essential for the success of our business and our region more broadly,” Hani Ashkar, PwC Middle East Senior Partner, said.   “Key takeaways from our most recent research include encouraging employers to create a strategy that includes investing in skills, reforming cultures, embedding equitable workplace policies, respecting personal time and wellbeing as well as developing metrics to actively track the progress in supporting female employees.”

Norma Taki, Inclusion and diversity Leader at PwC Middle East,  said they welcomed all initiatives in the MENA region that aim to advance women’s careers, which requires a multi-party approach in order for any progress to be sustainable. 

“Governments should continue to support women on a policy-level, and companies should take a more proactive approach in creating workplace environments conducive to women’s success,” she said. 

 

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