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MENA Youth and Women Most at Risk from Job Crisis

MENA Youth and Women Most at Risk from Unemployment

By Maria Kuiper

Rabat – The looming growth of unemployment has menaced the Middle East and North Africa since the beginning of the Arab Spring in late 2010.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), headquartered in the United States, recorded the region’s unemployment rate at 25 percent—the highest in the world—before the Arab Spring began.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) ranks North Africa as having the worst regional unemployment rate in the world, with women and youth especially at risk.

ILO states that in 2018, North Africa will “remain at a steady 8.7 million”. It also mentions that

five million Middle Easterners will face unemployment and one-third of those unemployed will be women.

People aged 15 to 30 in the Middle East and North Africa make up 60 percent of the region’s entire population, according to IMF.

Saudi Arabia, which is the Middle East’s largest economy and nineteenth overall in the world according to GDP, has an estimated youth unemployment rate of 32.6 percent by the ILO. The IMF reports that the unemployment rate for young women is 62 percent.

The Middle East and North Africa’s gender gap is triple the size of other developing economies in the world; women are three times less likely to be working than men.

Unemployment in Morocco

In Morocco, the unemployment rate rose from 10.2 to 10.5 percent from January 2018 to March 2018.

The highest rates of unemployment in Morocco are held by women and young people. Unemployment rates for women stand at 14.1 percent and the rates for young people, aged 15 to 24, are estimated at 35.1 percent by the ILO.

Morocco’s youth makes up about 17 percent of the country’s entire population yet stands as the front runners for the rate of unemployment.

Read also: Morocco’s Unemployment on the Rise 2018-2028: Report

In 2016, the United Nations held a forum consisting of 341 Moroccan women from all regions and all demographics. Most women held low-level jobs and corroborated with each other that their employments “do not reflect the needs of Moroccan women to be able to secure administrative leave to fulfill their familial responsibilities.”

From 2017 to 2018 in Morocco, the estimated number of working-age people set to join the labor-force was 245,000. A recent study reported Morocco would have to add 115,000 additional jobs each year as well as maintain its current opportunities to just remain at only 47 percent of the current population in the workforce.

The Middle East and North Africa need workforce opportunities to grow, or else by 2030, unemployment levels may reach 14 percent.

The most common reasoning for an increase in unemployment is rapid population growth combined with only a steady or slow creation of jobs. By 2020, Morocco is projected to grow by another one million people. If the nation does not want unemployment rates to rise, it will have to create jobs for its people at an expeditious rate.

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