Women ignored by region’s business reformers

REGIONAL business leaders are failing to encourage women to join the workforce despite calls for greater democracy and the liberalisation of women in the Middle East, according to a recent study.

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By  Christopher Robinson Published  May 1, 2005

REGIONAL business leaders are failing to encourage women to join the workforce despite calls for greater democracy and the liberalisation of women in the Middle East, according to a recent study. The survey, by YouGov, the UK-based polling group, found that the 238 regional businesses polled believe that reforms are not taking place quickly enough. Furthermore, the report shows that the region’s male-dominated business community regards the empowerment of women as a low priority. Only 6% of executives surveyed said they thought women deserved a greater role in the workplace. “It is shocking to note the attitude of senior managers, mainly men, towards women’s roles in business,” said Shishir Srivastava, executive director and general manager at Sage Software, the sponsors of the survey. “This finding comes, despite the recent World Bank report, which states that women could provide a major boost to regional economies,” he added. The survey also discovered that 40% of business leaders believe red tape and heavy regulations are holding back business growth more than any other economic factor. “The GCC governments are serious about making this region an investor-friendly place. However, it’s about time they found a way of making the financial relationship between business and investors easier,” explained Srivastava. Meanwhile, only 13% of business leaders believe greater immigration from the East and West would help improve business expansion. Instead many believe that a greater effort should be put into improving the local education system. “The solution lies in sustained effort in investing in the education system in the region,” Srivastava commented. The study also revealed that 76% of respondents expected monthly incomes to rise in the next 12 months. However, only one in four said they believed the increase would be greater than regional inflation rates.

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