ESCWA Publication: E/ESCWA/CL2.GPID/2020/TP.26
Publication Type: Reports & studies
Cluster: Statistics, Information Society and Technology
Focus Area: Gender equality
Initiatives: Women’s economic empowerment
Keywords: Gender equality, Entrepreneurship, Women, Empowerment, Employment
Propelling Women into Entrepreneurship in the Arab Region: The Role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
Today, there is a growing awareness that empowering women in the economy and closing the gender gap in the world of work are essential to realizing gender equality. Women’s entrepreneurship is an important strategy for advancing the economic empowerment of women while also reducing gender inequality. In the Arab region, the promotion of women’s entrepreneurship has gained traction over the past decade and is often seen as a valuable approach for creating jobs within a generally discriminatory environment. Nowadays, information and communication technologies (ICT) particularly mobile phones, the internet and computers, play an important role in accelerating business growth. As ICT is increasingly integrated into business practices, digital skills have thus become essential to devising business models, developing business plans, raising financial capital, interacting with stakeholders and clients, and building social professional networks and relationships. However, differences in resources and the ability to access and effectively utilize ICT within and between countries, regions, sectors and socio-economic groups have led to a digital gender divide.
Moreover, whereas the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns have emphasized the importance of ICT as tools to support the resilience and competitiveness of micro and small and medium enterprises, they have also weakened many small businesses that lack digital preparedness. This study examines the role ICT can play in supporting existing and potential Arab women entrepreneurs by addressing the broader entrepreneurial landscape and the level of women’s engagement in entrepreneurship in the Arab region, as well as the challenges that prospective and existing women entrepreneurs in the Arab region face, and by identifying means to help them overcome these challenges.