Women in Business and Management: gaining momentum in the Middle East and North Africa

Women in the MENA region have been progressing in the economy, following similar global trends, and have been positioning themselves at more prominent business and management levels. Still their full potential remains underutilized, resulting in significant missed opportunities for economic development in the region.

This report describes the position of women in the labour market and their economic activities, specifically in business management and leadership in the MENA region. It discusses the challenges, opportunities, and developments for more women to enter the labour market and to advance as business owners and corporate managers. It aims to inspire constructive discussions in the region and motivate actors in the world of work to achieve gender equality at all levels.

Chapters two, three and four review the most recently available indicators on women’s participation in the labour market, as managers, employers and own account workers. These sections rely on ILO statistical databases, as well as drawing on surveys such as the ILO Company Survey conducted in 2013 and studies conducted by renowned institutions and official data sources in order to sketch a general picture. The scarcity of data limits comparability and aggregation and thus examples from the region are used to highlight key features of MENA with respect to women in business. The fifth chapter provides a business rationale for augmenting the representation of women in management and leadership in the private sector. As little research is available to make a business case based on studies conducted in the region, global research findings are presented. The sixth chapter discusses the main challenges for women to break through the glass ceiling and to avoid the leaking pipeline in the MENA region. The seventh and eighth chapters present initiatives and emerging opportunities worth pursuing especially targeting the private sector at large. Finally, the last chapter offers avenues for action, specifically for the private sector and for business and employers’ organizations.