Survey: 57% MENA Women Enter the Workforce Aiming for Financial Independence

Published January 9th, 2019 - 11:25 GMT
Establishing successful career a main source of happiness for female professionals. (Shutterstock)
Establishing successful career a main source of happiness for female professionals. (Shutterstock)

Financial independence was cited by 57 percent of respondents in a recent survey as a key reason women enter the workforce in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, 48 percent of female respondents in a new survey conducted by – the Middle East’s #1 Job Site – and YouGov – global online market research company – titled Working Women in the MENA, said that they seek employment to support or financially contribute to the household and 48 percent do it to broaden perspectives on life.

Gender equality
Many companies in the MENA region recognize that gender equality is a crucial component to creating inclusive workplaces. The majority of survey respondent believe that women and men are treated equally at their workplace across a variety of areas, including recruitment and selection, career progression, training and development.

In line with the overall feeling of workplace equality, nearly two thirds (62 percent) reported working the same number of hours as male colleagues, while 23 percent reported working more hours than male colleagues.
While half of women surveyed (50 percent) believe promotions depend entirely on job performance and gender plays no role, 35 percent of respondents believe women have lower chance of being promoted.

The survey also provided valuable information to employers on designing solutions for the common issues facing today’s working females. Most women reported their organization offers official maternity leave of two to three months.

Future challenges
To understand what men and women value in their decision to take a job, the survey asked women to reflect on challenges they faced in their most recent job. Fewer opportunities for promotions (49 percent), stressful and demanding work environment (38 percent), and insufficient job training and coaching or lack thereof (33 percent) are reported to be the top three challenges women face in their work environment.

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Roba Al-Assi, Marketing Director, said: “More and more employers are interested in ensuring their workplaces are effectively attracting and retaining all types of talents. In light of this,’s regional survey identifies the employment challenges that today’s working women confront and examines how companies can innovate and alleviate these concerns to improve their workplaces. For example, this survey shows that companies can increase productivity by finding new, innovative ways to support professionals with children to balance between work and life, as half of the respondents stated that their decision to have children has affected their career. At, not only do we provide such vital information to empower companies to design HR processes, but we also create various tools that aid employers find their talent needs and streamline the hiring process.”

The pursuit of happiness
An analysis of survey data highlights some very concrete truths about the progress of female empowerment within the MENA region. Establishing a successful career emerged as the main source of happiness for most of female respondents (52 percent), travelling to other countries is also important for them (37 percent), followed by maintaining good health (36 percent).

To understand what female professionals value in their decision to take a job, the survey asked respondents to reflect on which job characteristics were important to them in choosing their most recent job. Overall, the majority (58 percent) of respondents selected a higher salary as the most important benefit, nearly two-fifths (39 percent) stated that opportunities for long term career growth were also very important to them as were flexible working hours (25 percent).

Kerry McLaren, Head of Omnibus MENA at YouGov said: “We teamed up with to analyze female job satisfaction in the region and found important links between women’s job satisfaction and an employer’s culture and benefits. While many of our respondents believe women and men are treated equally at their workplace; when women report there is gender inequality at work, the most commonly cited issue is with respect to promotions. This survey will help employers focus on what matters to women in the workplace.”

Data for the and YouGov’s Working Women in the MENA 2018 was collected online from October 21 to November 22, 2018. Results are based on a sample of 633 respondents. Countries assessed include UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Sudan.


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