Employment of young women through gender diversity management in companies
Title: Employment of young women through gender diversity management in companies in the MENA region
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia
Overall term: 2015 to 2020
The countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region) have the world's lowest rates of participation in economic activity by women, who account for a mere one in five of the gainfully employed. An average of up to 50 per cent of young female university graduates are unemployed. Although in comparison more women without higher education qualifications find work, they usually have poorly paid, socially insecure jobs. Traditional views of gender roles present an obstacle to gender equality on the labour market throughout all social groups. This situation has been compounded since 2011 by the economic crisis resulting from the Arab Spring.
When applying for jobs in the private sector, women are less likely to be hired despite having the relevant qualifications. Employers are concerned that they may often be unable to work or could resign prematurely due to family obligations. At the same time many firms are finding it difficult to fill vacancies. Many jobs are barely compatible with the idea of a welfare state and are not very attractive for women. The potential of female labour is only being harnessed to a limited extent for the private sector.
Employment opportunities for women in private sector companies have improved in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.
Selected companies implement gender diversity management, a personnel policy that strives for gender equality and uses it to benefit the companies. An audit is carried out to identify and implement pro-women measures within the companies, for example flexible working hours, child care and quotas for recruiting and promoting women. Supporting measures also involve male colleagues. This helps create a family-friendly working environment in compliance with social welfare criteria. For the companies, this means greater choice of personnel, less downtime and fluctuation among the workforce and ultimately better overall performance. In addition, the number of female employees in companies increases.
The programme also cooperates with four business and professional associations in the partner countries. They are publicising the approach in the region and adopting it in the long term for their work.
More than 100 companies have taken part in information events on gender diversity management so far. Seven large companies with a total of over 6,000 female employees have already signed cooperation agreements. Thus family-friendly working conditions are being created in the telecommunications and IT sector at Vodafone in Egypt, Umniah in Jordan and Vermeg in Tunisia. The Moroccan textile company Folly Fashion is working on comprehensive improvements to working conditions for its employees. In the banking sector, the Amen Bank in Tunisia and BMCI in Morocco are introducing a pro-women recruitment and promotion policy. The programme aims to improve employment opportunities for at least 8,000 female workers and jobseekers.