Female unemployment soars in the Arab world

Foreign female workers gather outside Saudi immigration department as they try to get visas and legalize their work situation in Riyadh. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Female unemployment soars in the Arab world

BEIRUT: Unemployment among women in the Middle East is twice that of men, the United Nations said on Wednesday, pointing to low wages, a lack of skills and a belief among some that a woman’s place is in the home.
About 16 percent of women in Arab states are unemployed, compared to a global average of 6 percent, the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) said.
“The incentive for women to work in the Middle East is not there,” said Emanuela Pozzan, a gender specialist with the ILO, pointing to poor maternity provisions and costly childcare.
“The jobs are not attractive because the salaries are not attractive,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
Getting more women into work globally was essential to achieve a global goal of gender equality by 2030, the ILO said, calling for policymakers to recognize the “unequal demands” on women at home and in caring for others.
Farah Nawayseh, 29, said she had been looking for work in her home country of Jordan for nearly nine months. Traditional male views of women were a significant roadblock, she said.
“Because I am female it is harder for me to find jobs,” she said by phone from Amman, the capital. “It has to do with a conservative mindset that men don’t want women to work — they are for marriage and to be in the home.”
She said the monthly wage for the sales jobs she sought was about 200 Jordanian dinar ($282).
“A lot of the time when I go for jobs they are asking for males and the salaries are so low,” she said.
Middle Eastern countries are among the worst in the world for unequal pay between men and women, according to the World Economic Forum, a Swiss charity.
The five lowest ranking countries for women’s economic participation and opportunity are Syria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iran, with a gap of at least 65 percent, it said. ($1 = 0.7080 Jordanian dinars)


Arab Israeli poet jailed for online incitement freed from prison

The posts on YouTube and Facebook came as a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence was erupting, including Palestinian knife attacks. (AFP)
Updated 44 min 36 sec ago
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Arab Israeli poet jailed for online incitement freed from prison

  • Tatour posted a video of herself reading her poem “Resist, my people, resist them,” in 2015, accompanied by pictures of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces, according to authorities.
  • The 36-year-old Israeli citizen was sentenced in July

An Arab Israeli woman jailed for five months for incitement to violence and support for a terrorist organization in online poems and other social media posts was released from prison on Thursday.

Dareen Tatour posted a video clip of herself reading her poem “Resist, my people, resist them,” in October 2015, accompanied by pictures of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces, according to authorities.

The posts on YouTube and Facebook came as a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence was erupting, including Palestinian knife attacks.

The 36-year-old Israeli citizen was sentenced in July.

She was released on Thursday due to time served before her conviction, she and a prison spokesman said.

“Freedom is something so sweet that I can’t even describe it,” Tatour said after her release.

She added that she planned to publish a collection of poems and a novel on her experience in prison.

International writers’ group PEN defended Tatour’s actions.

She was “convicted for doing what writers do every day — we use our words to peacefully challenge injustice,” the group said.

The offending verses were quoted in Hebrew in the charge sheet, but according to an English translation on the Arabic literature site ArabLit, they contained the following:

“For an Arab Palestine, I will not succumb to the ‘peaceful solution,’ Never lower my flags, Until I evict them from my land, Resist the settler’s robbery, And follow the caravan of martyrs.”

Prosecutors said that on Oct. 4, 2015 she also quoted a statement by Islamic Jihad calling for “continuation of the intifada in every part of the West Bank,” alleging it showed her support for the outlawed militant group.

Tatour, from the Arab village of Reineh near Nazareth, was arrested a week later.

Arab Israelis are descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land following the creation of Israel in 1948.

They account for some 17.5 percent of Israel’s population and largely support the Palestinian cause.