The World Bank recently released a report detailing the legal rights of women (in comparison with men) in the workplace. Globally, women are granted three-quarters the rights of men. In fact, there are 2.7 billion women who are legally barred from joining the same professions as men.
The situation in the Middle East and North Africa is no better. On the contrary, it's the worst.
"If women have equal opportunities to reach their full potential, the world would not only be fairer, it would be more prosperous as well," said Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank Group Interim President.
The average global score is 74.71, meaning "on average there is gender inequality in one quarter of the areas examined."
Only six countries in the world scored 100 on the index; Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Sweden are the only countries in the world who give women and men equal legal work rights.
The Middle East and North African region has the world's lowest average global score of 47.37, indicating that the average economy in the region is unequal in at least half of the areas examined. The region also had the lowest increase in average score in the past 10 years, rising just 2.86 points during that time.
Here's how Arab countries ranked:
According to the index, Morocco grants women more legal rights in the workplace in comparison with its counterparts in the region. Here's how the Arab countries ranked in terms of equality (from most to least):
- Morocco: 73.13
- Djibouti: 59.38
- Comoros: 58.75
- Lebanon: 58.75
- Tunisia: 58.75
- Algeria: 57.5
- Libya: 56.25
- Egypt: 50.63
- West Bank and Gaza: 46.88
- Oman: 44.38
- Iraq: 41.88
- Mauritania: 41.88
- Bahrain: 37.5
- Jordan: 35
- Kuwait: 35
- Syria: 34.38
- Qatar: 32.5
- Sudan: 29.38
- UAE: 29.38
- Saudi Arabia: 25.63
*Somalia and Yemen were excluded from the report.
Several Arab countries have been actively working towards empowering women and promoting gender equality in recent years.
For example, in 2012, the UAE passed a law calling for mandatory female representation on all boards of government corporations and bodies. It was the first law of its kind in the Arab world.
Subsequently, women now hold 66 percent of government jobs in the UAE, 30 percent of which are senior decision-making positions.
In December 2018, the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked the UAE as the top country in the Middle East and North Africa for wage equality.