Gender Wage Gap in EgyptEgypt is a country with a rich history and diverse culture. Unfortunately, it holds the title of having the highest gender wage gap. The Global Gender Gap Report 2022, issued by the World Economic Forum, positions Egypt at 129th among the 149 countries evaluated in the 2022 index. Egypt’s wage disparity is the highest with a 3.84 ratio, implying that men earn four times more than women in relation to GDP per capita. The World Bank further highlights gender inequality in the labor market, with women representing only 18% of the total workforce in Egypt in 2022.

Consequences and Economic Impact on the Egyptian Economy

Social context influences labor market competition. In Egypt, women’s limited mobility, childcare responsibilities and masculine work environments hinder their job prospects and contribute to lower pay. The gender wage gap in Egypt has significant consequences on society and the economy. The wage gap exposes discriminatory practices in employment and wages, where women face disadvantages compared to men in earning income.

Furthermore, the World Bank (2021) reported that if female participation in the workforce increased, Egypt’s GDP could potentially grow by 34%. This demonstrates the untapped potential of women’s economic contributions. Women’s active involvement in the financial sector, particularly in executive and board positions, enhances the resilience and stability of the country. According to the World Bank, achieving Egypt’s Vision 2030 requires addressing the underrepresentation of women, especially at senior leadership levels.

Possible Solutions from a Governmental Aspect

The Egyptian National Council for Women (NCW) operates as an independent women’s machinery. The President of the Republic of Egypt affiliates the council, which ensures equal treatment of Egyptian women in political, economic, social and cultural aspects. Additionally, the NCW actively plans for women’s advancement. The NCW actively addresses the gender wage gap and promotes gender equality in the labor market. Furthermore, the NCW introduces Egypt’s Vision 2030, aligning it with the Sustainable Development Strategy to construct a fair and equal society.

In its report to the United Nations, the NCW outlined several measures, including the establishment of a gender-sensitive budgeting system and the development of an action plan to increase women’s representation in decision-making positions. Through entrepreneurship programs, the NCW economically empowered Egyptian women. In April 2022, the Shakia Governate program trained 136,000 women in project management, planning, marketing and entrepreneurship concepts, thereby facilitating networking and providing access to valuable services.

The NCW’s efforts to promote women’s empowerment in Egypt yielded visible progress. From 2015 to 2019, the unemployment rate for females decreased from 12.8% to 7.9%. Additionally, Egypt joined the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) in 2018, committing to take action to close the gender pay gap by implementing policies, sharing knowledge and mobilizing resources.

Efforts from NGOs and International Organizations

Several international and non-governmental organizations have partnered with Egypt to address the gender wage gap and promote women’s economic empowerment. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been working with the Egyptian government to strengthen women’s participation in the economy by supporting policies and programs that promote gender equality, such as microfinance initiatives and vocational training for women.

USAID empowers women to close the gender wage gap in Egypt by supporting their entrepreneurial ventures. Through initiatives like the Women Entrepreneurs Network and Tiye Angels, 600 successful women-led businesses have emerged since 2017. Additionally, USAID’s Business Development Service Centers have strengthened 650 women-owned micro-enterprises. The Association for Women’s Total Advancement and Development (ATWAD) is another organization working to empower Egyptian women economically. ATWAD provides training, advocacy and capacity building for women to improve their access to resources and opportunities.

Lastly, ABAAD, a regional NGO, aims to achieve gender equality in the Middle East and North Africa region. ABAAD works in Egypt to promote equal opportunities for women in the labor market and to eliminate gender-based violence, which is a significant barrier to women’s economic participation.

Looking Ahead

Efforts to address the gender wage gap and promote women’s economic empowerment in Egypt are gaining momentum. Initiatives led by the Egyptian National Council for Women, along with collaborations with international organizations like USAID and ABAAD, are making a difference. Progress has been seen in reducing female unemployment rates and increasing women’s representation in decision-making positions. With continued commitment and support, Egypt is on the path towards achieving greater gender equality, unlocking the untapped potential of women and fostering a fair and inclusive society.

– Tanya Hamad
Photo: Flickr