RIYADH (Arab News) –The Arab region has the highest levels of unemployment in the world, especially among women and young people, with 14.3 million individuals already unemployed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a report issued today by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Regional Office for Arab States has revealed.
Entitled “Towards a Productive and Inclusive Path: Job Creation in the Arab Region”, the report highlights the high levels of informal employment in the region, amounting to about two thirds of total employment and resulting from demographic shifts, political instability and low levels of fiscal and monetary stability.
ESCWA Executive Secretary Rola Dashti stressed the lack of gender equality in Arab labor markets, illustrated by women’s lower shares as business owners and the few top management positions they hold.
“We must challenge gender-discriminatory perceptions in labor markets so that women can evolve in their careers and capitalize on their increased levels of education,” she said.
For her part, ILO Regional Director for Arab States Ruba Jaradat stressed how the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to address pre-existing labor market deficits in the region, especially those affecting the most vulnerable workers.
“The impact of the crisis has been particularly devastating for youth, persons with disabilities, women, informal workers, migrants and refugees. It is fundamentally important that we develop an action-oriented roadmap to advance a human-centered recovery, and construct a better future that delivers economic security, equal opportunity and social justice,” she stressed.