Opportunities/challenges for
Women in the Arab Region
Aida Abu-Ras
Doha- Feb.20.2014
First Arab States Regional SouthSouth Development EXPO
• Outline:
Definition: Business Women.
Women Entrepreneurs
Evolution of Entrepreneurship
Policy Recommendations
• Business Women- Definition
A woman who works in business especially in a high
A woman who is good at dealing with business and
financial matters
(Merriam Webster Dictionary).
A woman who works in business, especially one who
has a high position in a company. (Cambridge
Dictionaries on line)
Businesswoman is a description for a woman
entrepreneur who particular undertakes business
activities for the purposes of generating revenue. She
does this by combining her human ability and financial
or physical capital to attain her business goals.
• Women Entrepreneurs
• An entrepreneur is a person who has possession of a
new enterprise, venture or idea and is accountable
for the inherent risks and the outcome. The term was
originally a loanword from French and was first
defined by the Irish-French economist Richard
• “An enterprise owned and controlled by a women
having a minimum financial interest of 51 per cent of
the capital and giving at least 51 per cent of the
employment generated by the enterprise to women.”
Government of India
• Evolution of Entrepreneurship
• In the 1980s, the Gender and Development approach
(GAD), influenced by social feminism, post-modern
and post-colonial theories, took into account the
totality of women's lives, rejecting the public/private
dichotomy which serves to devalue women's work at
home. Focus on women's perspectives on
development makes women the “subjects” rather
than “objects” of development, change agents rather
than welfare recipients. The GAD approach works to
move women from the margin to the center by
allowing them to gain a sense of control over their
lives (empowerment).
Source: OECD
• Opportunities
• Percentage of educated women in the Arab region is
high, although illiteracy rate in some country is still
high (Yemen, Egypt, Iraq)
• Availability of vocational training, although
percentage of women enrolment is still low
• Availability of resources
• Percentage of youth is high in the Arab region
• Political will, and commitments to implement
international conventions (CEDWA)
• Availability of programs for capacity building targeted
women. (Donors’ Role)
• Opportunities
• NGOs and civil Societies are key players, and their
mummers are increasing although in different
structures and forms (some providing business
• ICT revolution, where the number of people having
internet access is increasing
• National Women machineries/ ( strategies for women
and family are in place in most of the Arab Countries
• Policy reforms that is taking place in the region
• Women are member of parliaments and
• Challenges
• Assets Acquisition :
 Spending on family welfare
 deprivation from their inheritance
 Access to loans and loaning terms and conditions,
(i.e) holding property is a precondition to loans in
most case.
• Challenges
• Mind set in the Arab region
How women
are perceived
by the society
How women
• Challenges
• Lack of confidence. Having accepted a subordinate
status for long
• Family burdens and responsibilities
• Laws and regulations (family laws, tax, export and
• opportunity identification and/or opportunity
• lack of role models in entrepreneurship
• Lack of experience
• Lack of relevant networks and of societal position
• Challenges
• Availability of statistics:
 Informal sector
 Longitudinal data for having information about
business development ,sustainability and growth
• Marketing
• Out reach of Existing business women net works
• Access to internet and lack of experience in ICT
• Insufficient technical skills in relation to
packaging/storage of products
• Conflict in the region
• Policy Recommendations
Need to adopt Family Polices
Revision of labor laws
Revision of economic laws
Revision of social security laws
Mainstream gender in national development
agendas/strategies( as a cross cutting issue)