Due to the pandemic, around 700,000 Middle Eastern women are projected to lose their job in 2020. Around 40% of the total job loss expected in the region, according to Oxfam.

But according to a recent Women at Work McKinsey report, the Fourth Industrial Revolution would empower women across the region like never before. It is said to double the job opportunities by 2030.

In five years, women using online platforms offering gig jobs opportunities are set to generate more than $27B.

Even though this new industrial revolution might be promising for job creation, Arab women are still facing cultural obstacles. They could possibly widen the digital gap between men and women.

A lot of Arab families possess only one computer where men have priority using it, said Manuel Langendorf, a researcher on digital transformation.

This would in term complicate the reskilling and upskilling programs women need to go through if they want to rip the benefits of the new up and coming markets.

Indeed, according to Rima Assi, co-author of the McKinsey report, “64% of women in Saudi Arabia & 39% in Egypt digitally-included women are at high risk of displacement if they do not learn digital skills.”

Multiplying opportunities

National and regional initiatives are multiplying to address this issue.

The Beirut-based incubator Berytech and the Lebanese League for Women in Business have recently launched the Crisis Management for Women-Led Business program.

Reina Dib Angoujard, Berytech’s Director of Communications and Outreach, explained that the program was designed to “support the economic mobility of women in Lebanon, and help them grow sustainable businesses […] which will facilitate job creation or maintain existing jobs.”

The lectures and schemes they propose aim at giving Lebanese women entrepreneurs the soft skills needed to overcome the effects of the COVID19 crisis on their businesses.

For this first edition, they expect to receive 160 women leaders from all parts of the country.

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