Statistics indicate that the economic and social development of women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) compares unfavorably with most regions in the world, according to a Working Paper by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The paper assesses the influence of government expenditure and taxation policies on the economic and social welfare of women in the region. The IMF found that the relatively weak social outcomes for MENA women are not explained by the amount of government social spending, suggesting the answer lies in the efficiency and reach of present spending.
Over the last few decades, most MENA countries have dramatically improved the status of women, as a result of generous public spending on health and education, according to the World Bank. In the year 2000 average spending on education reached 5.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) - the highest in the world -and 2.9 percent on healthcare.
Nevertheless, with labor force participation largely characterized by gender inequality, women remain a largely untapped resource in the region, thus preventing economies in MENA from drawing on their best talents.
IMF Working Papers describe research in progress by the authors and are published to elicit comments and to further debate. — (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )