The Way Forward after the Revolution: Decent Work for Women in Egypt and Tunisia (Phase II)

The project aims at supporting ILO’s constituents, including the Government, workers’ and employers’ organizations to address the challenges women are facing in the labour market. It seeks to address the barriers to a satisfactory women participation in the labour market through a comprehensive approach that works at the macro, meso and micro levels and that tackles at the same time access to employment, entrepreneurship, decent work conditions, and social dialogue.

Geographical area of implementation: Egypt and Tunisia

Project Background

The ILO Women at Work: Trends 2016 report, which provides new data for up to 178 countries, concludes that inequality between women and men persists across a wide spectrum of the global labour market.

Over the last two decades, significant progress made by women in education has globally not translated into comparable improvements in their position in the world of work.
The chances for women to participate in the labour market remain almost 27 percentage points lower than for men. Between 1995 and 2015, the global female labour force participation rate decreased from 52.4 per cent to 49.6 per cent. The corresponding figures for men are 79.9 per cent and 76.1 per cent.
At the global level, the employment gender gap has closed by only 0.6 percentage points since 1995, with an employment-to-population ratio of 46 per cent for women and almost 72 per cent for men in 2015. Women continue to face a higher risk of unemployment than men, with youth unemployment for young women being a particular concern.

In Egypt and in Tunisia in particular, gender inequalities do not only concern the quantity of the jobs women have access to as described above but also their quality. When at work, women are found disproportionately in vulnerable and/or informal employment. As an indication, Egypt’s large informal sector roughly equals 65-70% of the size of the formal sector, with an estimated 18 million informal establishments: 40,000 of them industrial and manufacturing factories of various sizes.

In Tunisia, in addition, horizontal and vertical occupational sex segregation and gender pay gaps persist. Women still perform the large majority of unpaid care work. As in the rest of Northern Africa, the Arab States and Southern Asia, proportions of older women in receipt of a pension are inferior to 10 per cent. Many companies in Egypt and Tunisia still show conscious or unconscious bias against women’s career progression, despite ample evidence of the positive effects of more gender-diverse workforces and management teams. Only few women are able to break the glass ceiling in the private sector.

The same gender gaps persist also with regard to entrepreneurship. With only 2 per cent women entrepreneurs, Egypt is known to have the lowest percentage of women entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa (4 per cent for the region) and Sub-Saharan Africa (27 per cent for the region). Women business owners account for 11% of the total number of businesses. This is far below the global average of about 30%. At the same time, enterprises owned by women are more likely to employ other women and an increase in the number of women-owned businesses would have a multiplier effect on women’s overall employment.

Objectives and expected outcomes

• Outcome 1: Support the development of an Enabling environment for gender equality in the workplace;
• Outcome 2: Create an Enabling environment for women’s entrepreneurship development;
• Outcome 3: Strengthen an Improved women leadership in employers’ and workers’ organizations.

Implementing partners

• Government of Egypt and Government of Tunisia.
• Workers’ organizations.
• Employers’ organizations.
• Governmental and non-governmental women’s organizations.
• Business service providers.
• Universities and other research institutions.