WOMEN IN THE MENA REGION
BETWEEN PROGRESSES AND OBSTACLES
The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analysis and informed insights on the MENA region’s most significant issues and trends, bringing together unique opinions on the topic and reliable foresight on possible future scenarios. On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, we turn the spotlight on the condition of women in the region by analysing a few emblematic case-studies.
On March 8, the international community celebrates women worldwide and draws attention to the issues related to the global female condition. When it comes to the MENA region, although the status of women overall has improved in the last decade through an increasing female participation in public, political and economic life, many challenges persist, and gender equality is still a distant goal. Tunisia and Saudi Arabia showcase how significant progress has been made. A progressive law grants Tunisian women protection and rights, as well political freedom, while reforms have ensured greater civic rights to Saudi Arabian women. However, positive achievements are not enough to break the glass ceiling. Parliaments throughout the region remain largely male-dominated and women struggle to reach high-level governmental positions; deep gender disparities in the labour market still exist, along with a significant geographical gap in the overall female condition between urban and rural areas. Furthermore, the condition of women is threatened by the instability – when not in crisis – of many regional economies. Let alone countries such as Afghanistan, that have retrograded on gender issues; Iran, where the revolt advocating for women rights is being repressed by the authorities; or war-torn countries like Syria and Yemen, where young girls and women often pay the highest price. As socio-economic achievements remain fragile, the determination and bravery of women in making their voice heard in many MENA countries is impressive, as they continue to take to the streets to demand greater rights and opportunities.
Experts of the ISPI MED network react to the status of women in selected countries of the region.