Women in the Middle East are a source of great and often un-tapped potential levers for the social change that the region sorely needs to overcome current economic and social challenges. In recent decades, Middle Eastern women have made great progress at gaining more equal access to education, but that has not yet translated into more access to employment outside the home. Indeed, with a female labor force participation rate (FLFP) lower than any other region in the world, the need for women’s economic development in the Middle East is acute (UPenn). Moreover, the FLFP in TYO’s target countries, Palestine and Lebanon (15.5% and 21.7% respectively) are among the lowest in the world and fall well below the regional average of 26%.
At the macroeconomic level, female education and participation is a key source of support for long-term economic growth, which is linked to higher productivity; higher returns to investment; higher agricultural yields; and a more favorable demographic structure (Goldman Sachs). From a microeconomic perspective, studies report that women reinvest 90% of any income in their family, versus an average 30% among men. In order to effectively leverage this opportunity, women need comprehensive support that is appropriate and relevant for their context. Accordingly, TYO promotes entrepreneurship among women to facilitate their economic independence while also addressing their needs for childcare and personal development. Women’s lack of economic empowerment, on the other hand, not only imperils growth and poverty reduction, but also has a host of other negative impacts, including less favorable education and health outcomes for children. In sum, the business case for expanding women’s economic opportunities is becoming increasingly evident; this is nothing more than smart economics.
Women demonstrate a strong desire and economic need to participate as income generators to support themselves and their families.
Many possess education, motivation, and basic skills; however, they need concrete support and tools to make their participation in the workforce feasible and effective. TYO’s women’s economic development programs provide customized business development training, coaching, and confidence-building activities for high-potential young women to develop viable business plans based on their skills, education, and motivation to work. Implementing these plans enables participants to generate income for themselves and other female employees thus improving the economic situation of families and the greater community.