Effects of gender inequality in employment and pay in Jordan, Lebanon and the Occupied Palestinian Territory: three questions answered

The labour markets in the Arab region have some gender characteristics that are similar to those in practically all other world regions. Where the Arab region stands out is in the extent of some characteristics. For example, female labour force participation is very low overall: the female force participation rate is only 27 per cent in the Arab countries compared to the global average of 51 per cent.

The effective utilization of woman power in any country stands to reason. This is more so in the three countries examined in this paper, namely Jordan, Lebanon and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) that are rather extreme representatives of the Arab countries in terms of the female labour force participation rate. The rate is 17 per cent in OPT and 15 per cent in Jordan, and 23 per cent in Lebanon thus surpassing only Syria (13 per cent before the crisis) and Iraq and Algeria (each at 14 per cent). In Jordan educated men migrate in large numbers, Lebanese women are highly educated and in oPt the male labour force participation rate is also extremely low. This makes the female human capital in these three countries even more precious: its underutilization implies the economy is smaller than it could be and grows slower than its potential with concomitant effects on family incomes and women’s prosperity. The challenge facing the three countries is to achieve the highest rate of growth under inclusive conditions void of discrimination among its citizens, in our case against women.

In this context, the paper responds to the three questions below:

1) if women and men were to achieve the same employment distribution across different sectors in the economy (e.g. industries, occupations, specific jobs etc.), How many women (and correspondingly, the same number of men) should be reallocated across these sectors?
2) if women and men were employed in same jobs and paid the same How much will the change be on (a) female wages, (b) male wages and (c) economic output (GDP)?
3) if there were an increase in the female labour force participation rate, What would be the impact on the national economy?