Despite having made significant gains in education, women in MENA are much less likely to have full time employment than women in other regions. Women face many barriers to employment, as made evident by the high female unemployment rates. However, for the women who overcome these barriers, the results are inspiring. Female-owned businesses account for just 13% of the businesses in the region. These firms share many of the many of the characteristics of male-owned ones: they export just as much - with the exception of in Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco, where female-owned firms export more than their counterparts. They are often just as big in size, hire workers of similar skills levels, and work in similar sectors of the economy.
However, women’s entrepreneurship in MENA isn’t reaching its full potential. Attitudes toward women and work may be less favorable to working women and to entrepreneurship and risks to entrepreneurs in the region still remain high. Women entrepreneurs must play a greater than in the past, creating more and better jobs, diversifying economies into modern sectors, and empowering other women. Greater women’s participation in the economy through women’s entrepreneurship can bring more women into leadership positions in society and can help the region reach better gender equity.