Feminist economists around the world are continuously highlighting the lack of consideration for social consequences in economic policies. As economic policies’ main goals are associated with monetary growth and accumulation, wellbeing and social justice are often left behind. Therefore, with a capitalist patriarchal economic model, it is essential to deconstruct the economy’s gendered paradigm that embeds hierarchal bias in favor of masculinized productive work in the public sphere and against feminized reproductive work in the private sphere, placing a higher value on the former than the latter.
Despite attempts from governments and the donor community in the MENA region to increase women’s participation in the labour market, which is embodied in the concept of “women’s economic empowerment”, the regional female employment rate of 20% is still the lowest in the world. Questions around whether women’s participation in the labor market has led to the actual empowerment of women in the region are posed. From the spread of informal work and lack of job security to financial conflicts causing an increase in domestic violence and little to no change in care work distributions in the household, the positive effects on women’s realities are debatable. Therefore, Feminist perspectives and critique are now more important than ever in the quest to realign economic systems with social justice.
In collaboration with feminist actors in the region, FES is bringing these concerns to the forefront through various activities, formulating contextualized feminist critique of the economic systems in the MENA region. Through different formats, this critique is being introduced into public discourse, engaging people from different backgrounds in the conversation, looking for transnational commonalities and differences and formulating alternatives to the current socio-economic challenges facing societies in general and women and marginalized groups in particular.