Empowerment of women in knowledge based society
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Empowerment of Women in Knowledge Based Society. The global economy is becoming increasingly dependent upon the ability to effectively produce and use knowledge and that the competitiveness of a country depends on the knowledge acquisition capacity of its human resources.

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The global economy is becoming

increasingly dependent upon the ability to

effectively produce and use knowledge and that the competitiveness of a country depends on the knowledge acquisition capacityof its human resources.


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Status of Knowledge in the Arab Region

Disturbing signals revealed from the first AHDR in 2002:

•While good progress has been made over the last decades in education coverage, more than half of Arab women cannot read or write. Two thirds of illiterates in the region are women.

•About 10 million children are out of school, mostly girls

•Low, and deteriorating, quality of education

•Only 0.6% of Arabs use the Internet & 1.2% of the population uses a PC

(The Arab region has the lowest level of access to ICT of all regions of the world, even lower than sub-Saharan Africa)

•Spending on research and development (R&D) is one seventh of the world average (0.5% of GDP)

  • Severe mismatch between education and the labor market


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  • Linkages between women’s education and development. Investments in girls’ schooling are effective.

  • Benefits of rising female education.

  • Female education leads to women’s empowerment

  • Irrespective of the social and personal gains, women are entitled to equal rights (moral and legal reason)

Why Should Women be Empowered to Access Knowledge?


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The case of Egypt Investments in girls’ schooling are effective.

  • Female literacy rate as percentage of males is 63.4

  • Female primary enrolment as % of males is 93.2

  • Female preparatory enrollment as % of males is 91.9

  • Female Secondary enrollment as % of males is 94.9

  • Females with Higher education (15 years +) is 23.5 %

  • Females in labor force as % of males is 18.5

  • Dropout rate for girls is 3.02 % higher than boys

  • Disparities however exist between Egypt’s different governorates with Upper Egypt ranking the lowest in female enrollment as % of males with 82 for primary and 80 for secondary.


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Obstacles Investments in girls’ schooling are effective.

The main impediments to knowledge are:

  • Political

  • Socio-economic

  • Cultural


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1. Political Impediments Investments in girls’ schooling are effective.

  • Too few women have a public and influential voice in Egypt (2.4% seats in parliament and 5.7% in Shura Council)

  • Women suffer in the Arab region from unequal citizenship and legal entitlements, often evident in voting rights and legal codes

  • Too few women occupy decision-making/senior positions (Governor, President of University, CEOs, etc…) in Egypt

    • Percentage of females in legislative or managerial staff is 2.5%

    • Percentage of females in Professional or technical staff is 6.3%


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2. Socio-economic Impediments Investments in girls’ schooling are effective.

  • Women do not have yet an equal access to education and information.

  • Socialization in the Arab world is characterized as over-protective and authoritarian child upbringing especially for girls (over-controlling childrearing leads to limited risk-taking & innovation).

  • Unemployment is much higher for women than for men.

  • Early marriage, limitations to travel and access to Ids

    Labor demand characteristics:

  • Characteristics of the Arab Economy

  • Employment for women made more difficult in some sectors due to cultural factors (tourism, retail, etc…)


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3. Cultural Impediments Investments in girls’ schooling are effective.

  • Are women equal to men in their role of educating their children and what is the weight of women’s decision-making in the family?

    • (women’s subordination & patriarchal family structure)

  • Cultural barriers and misinterpretation of religion with respect to knowledge and women’s role in society

  • Behavioral deviations discouraged or just to be different

  • The representation given in the media of the role of women

  • There are some trends which seem to discourage women’s public engagement (niqab).


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What needs to be done Investments in girls’ schooling are effective.

  • The quality of the Egyptian education system needs improvement in order to become more flexible, diversified and relevant to the economic and social needs of the country and to be gender sensitive.

  • Women are chief hidden educators especially in the Arab World where many women stay at home - need to promote the role of mothers in socializing and upbringing children and in setting the tone of curiosity and critical thinking for their children.

  • Need to raise awareness of the true place and role of woman in Islam, which is in many instances misrepresented in the media and elsewhere – need to sensitize religious preachers and authorities.

  • There should be a realization that Egyptian women have a role, indeed a responsibility to transform the contemporary Egyptian society.

  • Economic policies fostering more labor intensity, so generating more education and knowledge demand by women


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Transformation Tools Investments in girls’ schooling are effective.

  • Illiteracy eradication, especially to target governorates with a wide gender gap and low enrollment rates.

  • ICT – access to information and knowledge

  • Political empowerment

  • Media and gender

  • Education reform


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Transformation Tools (cont.) Investments in girls’ schooling are effective.

  • Positive symbolic measures

  • More women activism

  • Affordable social support services to free women’s time and potential

  • Awareness of women’s educator role, which can change prevailing norms/habits starting from the family


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