The Arab Women KIP Index: Study Examines Gender Inclusiveness in 11 Arab Countries

Published April 25th, 2021 - 06:00 GMT
The Arab Women KIP Index by CIBL at AUB
The Center for Inclusive Business and Leadership at the American University of Beirut has conducted the study. (Twitter: @cibl_w)

The Center for Inclusive Business and Leadership at the American University of Beirut and in cooperation with the U.S. State Department's Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Program has conducted a thorough study examining women's experiences in the workplace across 11 Arab countries and 6 different occupational fields.

The KIP Index is released by CIBL for Women is the first Arab MENA indigenous measure of recruitment, retention, and promotion of women in the formal economy, and it tracks local employers' policies and practices in addition to female citizen experiences in terms of Recruitment, Retention, and Promotion.

The sectors which have been under study are Financial Services, Professional Services, Healthcare, Education, Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
(STEM), and Other Services Sector.

Examining women's experiences at work and whether or not policies have been inclusive of them or not, the study has two indices; The KIP Index focused on employer policies and practices regarding the recruitment, retention, and promotion of women across sectors through surveys of over 1700 formal employers, and The Lived Experience Index which tracks female citizen experiences of recruitment, retention, and promotion in the sectors within which they are currently employed, through 523 interviews with women across 11 Arab MENA countries.

The study has been conducted in partnership with a number of regional organizations in 11 different Arab countries, including Algeria and Tunisia's EMRHOD International, Bahrain's Elham Fakhro and Sabeeka Alshamlan, Jordan's Business and Professional Women Association, Iraq's Women Empowerment Organization, Libya's The Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace, Morocco's Arab Centre for Scientific Research and Humane Studies, Lebanon's Collective for Research & Training on Development- Action, Yemen's Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies and Kuwait's Shaima Bin Hussein.

Moreover, the study has categorized all 11 Arab countries into three groups based on the abundance of resources and labor;

The study has found out that women's representation in leadership positions in Arab MENA workplaces is still very low, and that women's access to formal employment across the region is lagging behind every region in the world.

While the study pointed out that the Healthcare sector has the lead in the KIP index, it has noted that policies for protection and representation of women in top ranks are still needed.

Meanwhile, STEM has ranked the lowest in terms of Recruitment, Retention, and Promotion. According to the study, women are near-absent from positions of leadership and they experience negative well-being at work.

Additionally, the Retention score is low across all grouping suggesting that women are still less likely to assume positions of power.

"The #RIBLeffect, starts with us. Employers in action today will make tomorrow’s workplaces more inclusive for secure and dignified recruitment, retention, and promotion of women."

Finally, the study ends by providing policymakers with a number of detailed recommendations to each of the six sectors it examined, all of which aim to help create a "Roadmap for Inclusive Business and Leadership," one that can improve women's work experiences in the Arab World.

Study's General Recommendations 

1- Close the data deficit – there is still a growing need to collect and analyze gender-disaggregated data across all dimensions of RRP. Conducting focus groups with potential applicants, former employees, and customers to understand gaps will also prove to be valuable.

2- Structured conversations - We must encourage open and transparent dialogue internally around gender biases across RRP.

 3- Internal reporting mechanisms - Build internal capacity to recognize bias, discrimination, and workplace violence. This entails implementing structures to report discrimination and revise all corporate literature to remove gender-bias terminology.

4- Regional movements – Launch campaigns with like-minded employers in the sector for gender-inclusive workplaces.

 5- Mentoring to the top – Mentoring programs and networking opportunities need to be developed as part of corporate agendas, to increase the retention and promotion of women in the workplace. 

How else do you think that policymakers across Arab countries can push for more inclusive work environments in the different sectors?

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