There’s a global trend that more women are pursuing university degrees than men. And in Palestine and the greater Arab world, the same reigns true. The World Bank states that the ratio of female to male tertiary enrollment in the region is 108%. And according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, during the scholastic year of 2012-2013 in Palestine, 81,052 males were pursing higher education degrees at universities versus 120,256 female students who enrolled in university.
While this all sounds extremely promising for the women in the Arab world, a report from the World Bank entitled Jobs for Shared Prosperity: Time for Action in the Middle East and North Africa states that 3 out of 4 women in the Middle East remain outside the labor force. And a report from Brookings (Arab Youth: Missing Educational Foundations for a Productive Life?) confirms that “only about 18% of working-age Arab women actually have jobs.”
In Palestine in particular, in 2012, a mere 12% of women were working and engaged in the labor force. The chart below, from Brookings, highlights just how poorly Palestine preforms. Palestine ties for the lowest participation rate in the workforce along with Jordan and Algeria, but has the highest female tertiary education enrollment – outperforming countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and Bahrain!
Studies report that women reinvest 90% of any income in their family, versus an average 30% among men. In order to effectively leverage this opportunity and help lead the greater Middle East towards a brighter future, women need comprehensive support. So what is being done to help these females not only engage in the workforce but also succeed in it? At TYO, we strive to ensure that women have the right to thrive:
- Youth Service Learning (YSL): YSL trains the next generation of local leaders with essential employability skills by participating in community service. Volunteers learn classroom management, about mentoring children with psychosocial needs, professional conduct, leadership, and public speaking. Often YSL participants are currently enrolled in university or are recent graduates who have been unable to find any employment opportunities.
- TYO Entrepreneurship Programs: Since 2010, TYO has worked with various partners to increase women’s participation in the labor force. We promote economic empowerment for women by providing holistic skills based trainings, coaching, and incubation to increase participants’ business & practical skills and self-confidence in the workforce.