Ramallah, September 17, 2018 – A new report Enhancing Job Opportunities for Skilled Women in the Palestinian territories highlights the constrains to labor market entry in the face of Palestinian women, and provides recommendations going forward. The report, co-funded by the World Bank and Norway Representative Office to the Palestinian Territories, was discussed today at a workshop in the presence of Palestinian ministries, private sector and female entrepreneurs, academia, NGOs and donor representatives.
The Palestinian territories suffer from limited job creation with stubbornly high unemployment rate, hitting particularly the youth and women. A striking feature of the labor market is the significantly higher rate of unemployment among skilled women (47 percent) relative to skilled men (18 percent), despite entering the labor force in comparable numbers and facing same constraining environment. Furthermore, high-skilled women are more likely to be unemployed than low-skilled women.
“Women today represent half of the world’s working-age population, and more than half of the world’s university students,” said Lynne Sherburne-Benz, World Bank Director for Social Protection and Jobs. “Policies and labor regulations should be adjusted to ensure women’s ability to access and compete in the labor market. The role of the private sector is also critical, and employers have to commit to hire women and pay them equal wages to men for the same work.”
Skilled women make up the bulk of the Palestinian female labor force. If employment barriers are reduced, and women have more access to jobs, the results on welfare and stability in a fragile context will be reflected in better living conditions for the Palestinian households, and for the Palestinian economy.
Skilled females are readily available human capital with the potential to spur economic growth and contribute directly to productivity, said Hilde Haraldstad, Representative of the Office of Norway to the Palestinian Authority. “We commend the Palestinian efforts to advance women’s rights at the national level. It is also crucial to see the impact of policy initiatives on the ground. Getting women into the workforce, with equal opportunities and equal pay, is good for the economy.”
The report recognizes the protracted period of slow economic growth amid years of political instability and restrictions on access and mobility. However, the report makes a set of recommendations that can be implemented to improve employment and earning outcomes for skilled women. Among them, the report encourages measures to ease entrepreneurship constraints, particularly in microwork and online freelancing that will allow access to regional and global market from home. It supports strengthening labor market intermediation services and programs to match skills demand with skills supply. It also recommends legislative reforms that are important to reduce gender-based bias in sectors and occupations, and to maintain incentives to hire women (paid maternity leave, affordable child care).