The Impact of Economic Crisis on Women in Egypt
Based on Nassar, Heba (2009)"Impact of Economic Crisis on Women
1- The impact of the economic crisis on the Egyptian Crisis
The current financial crisis strongly affected the Egyptian economy
because of the strong relationship with the international economies,
since 75% of the Gross Domestic Product is composed of the
international trade as 32% of exports are exported to the United
States and 32.5% of imports comes from the United States and Europe
and two third of the foreign direct investments in Egypt are from
the United States and Europe.
2. Gendered paths of transmission of the crisis: Impact of
the Economic Crisis on Women in the Egyptian economy
▪ In Egypt men tend to dominate sectors and occupations
with better-paid jobs; The men's
occupational structure is more evenly distributed. However, the
relatively high percentage of women clericals, professionals and
farmers indicate the vulnerability of females with respect to
privatization policies as underemployment is spread among all these
categories and skills are not matching the labor market
requirements. This kind of occupational segregation is a result of
what we refer to as sexual division of work. Social services,
teaching, nursing and medical services, pharmacy and dentistry
occupations employ women more than other fields. Women are still
concentrated in the low skilled occupations, the main occupation
that were easily affected by the crisis.
The horticultural sub sector is a major employer of women in Egypt.
Women participate actively at all levels of the sub sector, from
production all the way of processing and marketing. As in
horticultural production, women are generally hired on a seasonal
basis. Men, on the other hand, tend to be mostly permanent workers –
machinists, engineers, technicians, and supervisors, men are also
hired to perform the heavier and harsher tasks, often required in
processing plants, such as stacking, hauling, and lifting. These
tasks are usually perceived by both employers and famine employees
as unsuitable for women. Women in this sector have been hit by the
crisis mainly through their stereotype role in this sector.
▪ In the sphere of unpaid work,
including subsistence production and unpaid family work
contributions, female concentration is extremely high. The gendered
nature of employment raises a variety of concerns surrounding
vulnerability to economic shocks. Unrewarded work as well. This
confirms the notion of vulnerability of Egyptian women to the
crisis. In 2007; about half working females are paid workers while
about the third are non-paid family workers.
▪ It is noticeable that women share as entrepreneurs is limited
(18%) compared to males (28% as employers and self employed).
Moreover, women tend to be concentrated as self employed while a
minimal percentage of working women are engaged as employers. In
this regard, it is worth mentioning that women involved in business
(employers and self employed) are mainly concentrated in the
informal sector compared to the male entrepreneurs.
Many women turn to start up their own enterprises or work with
relatives in small businesses so that they can manage between their
household and their work. The female entrepreneurs, whether working
formally or informally, seem to be mainly active in two major
activities: the trade and services sectors. This
entrepreneurship sector has been sharply hit by the crisis, due to
lack of crisis management awareness, shortage in liquidity and
inefficient marketing channels. Several women reported that they had
to freeze many activities and to lay off workers and warmed other
women to enter into business without strong connections to the
market and effective linkage channels to crisis mitigation and
▪ Moreover although unemployment is a common problem
affecting every individual member of the society,
who needs and is able to work, its impact on women is more
intensive. Women are more vulnerable in the labor market. In the
fourth quarter of 2008/209, unemployment level has increased to 9.4%
compared to the fourth quarter of 2007/2008, while the male
unemployment rate witnessed a slight decrease from 5.4% in Q4
2007/2008 to 5.2% in Q4 2008/2009; unemployment among women has
increased noticeably from 18.8% to 23.2% over the same comparison
period. The dual role of females lead also to interruption of the
continuum of female's work that for years by maternity
responsibilities, which indicates the impact of the dual role of
females on their status in the labor market. In the cases of the
economic crisis it was reported from the results of the survey that
was undertaken for this report that men should come first than men
if employment opportunities will shrink.
▪ Despite the fact that the Egyptian labour law is equitable and
favourable to women it might lead to unfavourable employers
perceptions against women’s work in particular for the private
investor and in particular during the crisis. This has been clearly
mentioned by women entrepreneurs in our interviews
They mentioned “Women are expensive workers for employers”.
This is due to the law that provides for maternity leaves, child
care centers and nursing breaks in the government and public sector.
Though it is in favour for women it may lead to discrimination
against women in the labor market. Employers are opposing lengthy
maternity leaves. This might be a barrier for women to get a job
during crisis when all fringe benefits have been cut.
3. Policy Recommendations:
Engendering macro-economic policies:
Preventing job losses can be through prevailing conditions to be
engaged in a pro gender and youth macroeconomic strategy through:
▪ Expansionary policies for all, including women;
▪ Reinforcing access to productive resources for women and men
▪ Recognizing existing gender inequalities in unpaid work.
▪ Providing access to minimum social safety nets for everyone,
especially to women and their children.
▪ Gaining access to credit; as they lack assets, far more so than
men do, they are de facto excluded from formal banking services.
▪ From a gender perspective, fiscal stimulus packages can be
designed in ways that benefit the disadvantaged, including women and
children. Public spending on social sector infrastructure and
service delivery should be maintained at previous levels, preventing
cuts, especially in nutrition delivery programs, health, sanitation,
▪ From a gender perspective, two key issues stand out. The first is
that jobs are made available to women. Either appropriate training
must be made part and parcel of such initiatives (whose enactment is
doubtful at times of severe crisis, but not impossible) or project
design must include sectors of the economy that are primarily
female-intensive to counterbalance the employment generation in