Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Entrepreneurship in the Euro-Mediterranean region continues to have a male face

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Tuesday, March 8th 2022 à 18:00 | Read 350 times

Europe and the Mena region are below the global percentage of 6.2% of women entrepreneurs who own a business (photo: UpM)
Europe and the Mena region are below the global percentage of 6.2% of women entrepreneurs who own a business (photo: UpM)
MEDITERRANEAN. Announced on 24 February 2022, the first report of the Intergovernmental Monitoring Mechanism for Gender Equality in the Euro-Mediterranean Region published by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), is now online. This forty-six page document, aggregating several data from various institutions, is based on twenty gender indicators in four priority areas: leadership and decision-making, women's economic participation, combating violence against women and girls, and combating gender stereotypes.

It shows that gender equality is estimated at 76.7% in Western Europe and 61.2% in the Mena region (Middle East and North Africa). According to a previous report published in December 2019 by the World Economic Forum on the gender gap, it would take fifty-four years and 140 years respectively to achieve parity at the rate it is progressing in these two parts of the world.

Europe and the Mena region are below the global percentage of 6.2% of women entrepreneurs who own a business (5.3% and 4.5% respectively). This low rate is due to difficulties in accessing business support services and networks. But there are also psychological reasons. Thus, 52% of women decide not to create their business for fear of failure, against 42% of men. In Morocco, only 12.8% of entrepreneurs are women compared to 37.2% in Portugal and 31.5% in Croatia.

The report is published on the occasion of Women's Day (photo: UfM)
The report is published on the occasion of Women's Day (photo: UfM)

Lowest labour market participation rate in the world

"Despite strong variations between countries, entrepreneurship in the Euro-Mediterranean region continues to have a male face," the survey says. And again, it notes that "the lack of gender-specific data can mask many inequalities".

"We need to build new inclusive societies that ensure that girls and women can realise their potential as agents of change and contributors to the socio-economic development of the region. This follow-up mechanism will provide an effective means to monitor progress on women's rights and to work collectively to accelerate the full participation of women in the region," comments Nasser Kamel, Secretary General of the UfM.

At 20%, women's participation in the labour market in the Euro-Mediterranean region is the lowest in the world. It ranges from 16.7% in Morocco to 78.3% in Sweden. Malta is the country with the highest increase, gaining ten points in the last five years. Over the same period, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, but also Sweden, have regressed in this area, especially in rural areas. It should be noted, however, that this decline in the employment rate for women has also been accompanied by a decline in the employment rate for men.

The unemployment rate is 43% among young women. Similarly, 38% of women have a bank account compared to 57% of men.

A country-by-country analysis to come

In the EU, between 2012 and 2020, the number of female board chairs doubled, while the number of female CEOs tripled. However, this increase should be seen in perspective, as less than one in ten of these positions is held by a woman, and women still account for less than 30% of the board members of publicly traded companies. In 2019, in the Mena region, this figure reached only 4.8% of the total board seats of the largest public companies.

On the positive side, the UfM notes that since 2016, eleven new countries (Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Portugal and Tunisia) have approved legislation to establish a gender balance in national and/or regional parliaments. Today, in sixteen UfM Member States, women hold at least 30% of the seats in these bodies at national level.

According to data from the EIGE (European Institute for Gender Equality), eighteen UfM Member States have at least 30% of women in their national governments. In September 2021, Tunisia became the first Arab country to appoint a woman as Prime Minister, in the person of the academic Naja Bouden. In the same year, the Maltese Parliament unanimously approved a constitutional amendment to introduce gender-balanced representation in national parliaments and/or regional structures. It guarantees the presence of at least 40% women in them.

This new document will contribute to the next UfM Ministerial Declaration. It will also be followed up with the publication of a country progress report that will provide qualitative and quantitative data on six indicators: Existence or not of legal frameworks to promote, implement and monitor gender equality and non-discrimination; proportion of seats held by women in governments; proportion of women in leadership positions in the public and private sectors compared to men; proportion of women in formal and informal work compared to men; proportion of women entrepreneurs compared to men; proportion of women and girls aged 15 years and over, victims of domestic violence by a relative in the last 12 months, by age, disability and migration status.

Read the full UfM report on "Regional Progress on Gender Equality ".

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