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)


Iran’s Hassan Rouhani may skip UN meet over US visa delay

Updated 31 min 41 sec ago

Iran’s Hassan Rouhani may skip UN meet over US visa delay

TEHRAN: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and his delegation could be forced into skipping next week’s UN General Assembly because the United States has yet to issue them visas, state media said Wednesday.
Rouhani and his delegation had been scheduled to travel to New York for the annual UN gathering on Monday, but that was now looking unlikely given the lack of visas, state news agency IRNA said.
“If the visas aren’t issued in a few hours, this trip will probably be canceled,” IRNA reported.
The delegation includes Iran’s top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif, who the United States imposed sanctions against on July 31.
The foreign minister had been due to travel to New York on Friday morning, according to IRNA.
The absence of Rouhani would ruin France’s bid to arrange a meeting between him and US President Donald Trump as part of European efforts to de-escalate tensions between the arch-foes.
“Iran’s absence will show that in contrast with its commitments to the United Nations and international organizations within the framework of agreements, diplomacy has no value for the United States,” IRNA said.
“Although the Islamic Republic of Iran has not left the scene and it continues its active diplomacy, the US government must answer for its behavior,” it added.
The UN General Assembly debate is due to begin on Tuesday.
As the host government, the United States generally is obliged to issue visas to diplomats who serve at UN headquarters.
But Iran and the United States have been at loggerheads since May last year when Trump abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal and began reimposing sanctions in its campaign of “maximum pressure.”
Iran responded by scaling back its commitments under the landmark accord, which gave it the promise of sanctions relief in return for limiting the scope of its nuclear program.