중동 주요국의 여성 경제활동 확대 정책과 한국의 협력 방안: 사우디아라비아와 UAE를 중심으로 (Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Middle East and Implications for Korea, with a Focus on Saudi Arabia and the UAE)

152 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2020

See all articles by Jae Wook Jung

Jae Wook Jung

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Sung Hyun Son

Korea Institute for International Economic Policy

Yunhee Jang

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ryou Kwang Ho

Korea Institute for International Economic Policy

Date Written: December 30, 2019

Abstract

Korean Abstract: 본 연구는 최근 여성의 경제 및 사회 참여 정책을 확대하고 있는 사우디아라비아, UAE 등 중동 주요국의 정책 변화의 배경과 현황을 소개하고, 이를 계기로 정부간 새로운 정책 협력 수요와 유망 산업 분야를 제시하는 것을 목적으로 한다. 중동지역에서 여성의 경제 참여 수준은 전 세계적으로 비교할 때 가장 낮다. 중동지역 고유의 법ㆍ제도와 문화가 그동안 여성의 사회활동을 억제하였던 것이 사실이다. 그러나 최근 중동의 핵심 산유국들이 여성의 경제 및 사회 참여를 적극적으로확대하고 있다. 이런 중동 주요국의 여성 정책은 탈석유 시대를 앞두고 자원 중심의 지대국가 (rentier state)에서 벗어나기 위한 중동 산유국의 핵심 노동 정책으로 부각되고 있다. 본 연구에서는 여성의 경제ㆍ사회 활동 참여 확대의 배경과 세부 정책, 여성의 노동시장 참여로 인한 경제적 효과를 분석하고, 이를 바탕으로 우리나라의 대중동 경제협력 전략에 대한 정책적 시사점과 구체적인 정책 협력 방향을 제시하였다. 제2장에서는 중동지역 여성의 경제활동 참여가 저조한 배경과 걸프협력회의(GCC: Gulf Cooperation Council) 국가들에 대한 통계를 바탕으로 여성의 경제 및 정치 참여 현황에 대해 살펴보았다. 중동지역 여성의 경제활동 참여가 다른 지역에 비해 상대적으로 저조한 것은 크게 세 가지 요인에 기인한다고 볼 수 있다. 먼저 가부장 제도와 명예를 중시하는 문화가 크게 발달했기 때문이다. 이와 같은 특성으로 인해 중동 여성의 역할과 행동은 여러 측면에서 제한을 받았으며 현재까지도 여성 경제활동 참여에 대한 사회적 인식에 영향을 미치고 있다. 또한 여성의 노동시장 참여를 위한 제도 및 법적 환경이 열악하다. 여성이 결혼, 취직 등을 하려면 가족 내 남성 후견인의 허락을 받아야 하는 후견인 제도가 일부 국가에 여전히 남아 있으며, 중동 국가 중 직종, 산업 등 여성 노동에 관해 법적 제한을 두고 있는 국가 비율은 전체의 절반을 넘는다. 중동 국가들의 법적 출산휴가 기간은 다른 지역과 비교하여 상대적으로 짧고 대부분이 아직 육아휴직제도를 도입하지 않은 것으로 나타났다. 사우디아라비아, UAE 등 일부 국가들은 출산휴가 동안의 급여를 고용주가 부담하도록 규정하고 있기도 하다. 마지막으로 석유 중심 경제의 구조적 특수성도 여성의 경제 참여를 억제하고 있다. 석유 중심 경제구조는 전통적으로 여성 노동자의 비중이 높은 교역재 산업의 국제경쟁력 약화와 여성의 의중임금(reservation wage) 상승을 초래하여 여성 노동의 수요와 공급을 모두 감소시키는 경향을 나타낸다고 알려져 있다. 중동지역 중에서도 여성의 경제활동에 제약이 많은 GCC 국가들의 성격차(gender gap) 통계를 살펴보면, 종합 순위는 전 세계 국가 중 121~141위로 최하위권에 머무르고 있다. 특히 정치 부문에서 여성에 대한 선거권 및 피선거권과 같은 제도적 장치는 어느 정도 마련되어 있으나 실질적인 정치 참여는 대체로 제한적이었다. GCC 지역에서 여성의 교육 수준별 등록률은 남성보다 높고, 특히 고등교육에서는 차이가 뚜렷했다. 여성의 교육 수준이 남성보다 높음에도 불구하고 전체 노동력 중 여성 비중은 30% 미만이었으며, 경제활동 참여율도 상대적으로 저조한 편이다. 그리고 사회ㆍ문화적 제약 요인으로 인해 여성이 일할 만한 직장이 많지 않아 실업률도 남성보다 높았다. 외국인 비중이 큰 민간 고용 시장에서는 가정부, 단순 서비스직 등 저임금 직종에 종사하는 외국인 여성의 비중이 높아 평균 여성 임금이 남성의 20~47% 수준에 불과했다. 반면 자국인 남녀 모두 임금 수준은 높고 업무 강도는 강하지 않은 공공 부문에 주로 종사하고 있으며, 공공 부문에서 남녀간 임금 격차는 크지 않은 것으로 나타났다. 제3장에서는 사우디아라비아와 UAE를 중심으로 중동 주요국의 여성 경제활동 참여 확대 정책을 살펴보았다. 특히 사우디아라비아는 여성의 경제활동이 사실상 불가능했던 상황에서 최근 여성 참여에 대한 제약요소들을 빠른 속도로 완화시키면서 눈에 띄는 변화를 보이고 있다. 여성의 생활 전반에 영향을 미친 후견인 제도가 완화되면서 여성이 주체적으로 경제활동에 참여할 수 있는 여건이 마련되었으며, 여성이 취업 가능한 직종도 확대되었다. 또한 여성 운전 허용으로 인해 여성의 취업 가능성은 더욱 커지게 되었다. 경제 규모나 인구 구조가 사우디아라비아와 다른 UAE는 사우디아라비아보다 더 일찍부터 여성의 참여를 독려하여 여성의 행동에 대한 제약 수준 측면에서 더 나은 여건을 보였다. 두 나라 모두 여성의 민간 부문 진출을 적극적으로 지원하고 있으며, 특히 여성의 창업을 지원하는 정책을 활발하게 추진하고 있다. 또한 여성의 경제활동이 확대되면서 출산 및 육아 지원 정책도 강화되는 추세를 보이고 있으며 이와 함께 여성의 일ㆍ가정 양립을 위한 정책 중 하나로 재택근무 지원도 강화되는 양상을 보이고 있다. 이 밖에 여성의 역량 개발을 위한 교육 및 직업훈련 지원도 여성의 경제활동 참여 확대를 위한 주요 정책으로 추진되고 있다.


English Abstract: This study examines the background and current status of recent women empowerment policy in the Middle East, especially in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and suggests new agenda for government-level policy cooperation and favorable sectors due to recent changes. The level of economic participation by women in the Middle East remains among the lowest in the world. Laws, institutions, and cultures inherent in the region have long restrained women’s social and economic activities. Recently, however, major oil countries in the Middle East are encouraging women’s economic and social participation. Thus women economic empowerment policy is becoming a key labor policy for these countries to depart from resource-oriented rentier states in preparation for the upcoming post-oil era. This study analyzes the background, detailed policies, and economic effects of women’s empowerment in the region, as well as providing policy implications and concrete policy approaches to further economic cooperation with Middle Eastern countries. Chapter 2 surveys the background of low female economic participation in the Middle East and the status of female economic and political empowerment in the region, using data on the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. There are three main reasons for low female economic participation in the Middle East relative to other regions in the world. First, the patriarchal system remains strong and a culture which places honor above all else places many restrictions on women. This cultural and historical background has limited the role and behavior of Middle Eastern women in many ways and still affects social perceptions of women’s economic participation. Another factor is how insufficient the institutional and legal environment is for female participation in the labor market. The male guardianship system, which requires women to earn permission from their male guardians for important social decisions like marriage or employment, remains in place in many countries in the region. More than half of the Middle Eastern countries have restrictions on women labor, including their occupations and industries. Maternity leaves in the Middle East are relatively short compared to other regions, and most countries are yet to allow parental leaves. Still, in some countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, employers are obligated to provide full pay for employees during maternity leaves. Lastly, the unique oil- ependent economic structure also discourages women from participating in the economy. The oil-based economic structure weakens the international competitiveness of trade goods producing sectors, in which female workers are traditionally more active, and increases the reservation wages for women, thus reducing both the demand for and supply of female labor. Data for GCC countries in the Middle East, where women’s economic activities are particularly more limited, show that these countries rank among the lowest, from 121st to 141st overall, on the global gender gap index. In particular, while legal/political institutions such as the right to vote and electoral eligibility are normally ensured for women, actual political participation by women generally remained limited. In GCC countries, female enrollment rates by education level are similar to or even higher than their male counterparts, especially in higher education. Although women’s education levels are higher than men’s, women account for less than 30% of the total workforce, and female economic participation rates are also relatively low. Female unemployment rates are also higher than male unemployment rates because there are few suitable and decent jobs for women due to social and cultural constraints. In private sectors where the share of foreign workers is high, many foreign female workers are housekeepers and elementary workers, with the result that wage levels of women remain a mere 20% to 47% of men’s wages. In public sectors, on the other hand, the gender pay gap is relatively small and the majority of workers are male and female nationals who are both paid well. Chapter 3 surveys the female economic empowerment policies of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Saudi Arabia is undergoing visible changes from when women’s economic activities were virtually unheard of in the country, as it has dramatically eased and reformed restrictions against women recently. As the male guardianship system, which affects women’s lives in general, has been weakened, the environment for women to participate in economic activities has improved. Allowing women to drive has increased their prospects to find jobs. The UAE, which differs from Saudi Arabia in its economic and demographic background. has a better environment for women in terms of institutional constraints on women’s activities, as women empowerment rose as a main agenda in the country earlier than Saudi Arabia. Both countries actively support women’s participation in private sectors and, in particular, encourage women’s start-ups. In addition, as women’s economic activities expand, maternity and child-care support policies develop. To allow a work-life balance for women, telecommuting is encouraged and supported. Furthermore, support for female education and vocational training is being promoted as a key policy for women’s economic empowerment. In Chapter 4, we analyze the economic effect created by Saudi female nationals entering the labor market of the nation, where female economic empowerment policies have been expanded to achieve the Saudi Vision 2030. In particular, we conducted an empirical study to test the statistical relationship between Saudi national labor market participation and economic growth, as well as the substitution effect between Saudi national workers and non-Saudi workers. In Saudi Arabia, 62% of the 30 million resident population are nationals, compared to other countries in regions were more foreigners reside than nationals. Being the source country of the second-largest amount of remittances from migrant workers in the world places a huge burden on Saudi Arabia, along with the high unemployment rate of Saudi nationals. In this regard, the recent female labor policy of Saudi Arabia focuses on the substitution of migrant workers by Saudi female workers. This empirical study builds the longest time series data of Saudi national female labor market participation rates from 1999 to 2018. It is important to note that overall female labor market participation data used in most related literature are actually inappropriate because foreign workers account for the majority in the Saudi labor market. It is a key contribution of this study that it uses the longest time series data compared to some previous studies that use Saudi national data. The empirical results show a strong positive relationship between Saudi national female labor market participation and economic growth when controlling for effects from the oil sector. On the other hand, the findings for a substitutional relationship between migrant workers and Saudi female workers were not statistically significant. Despite several recent policies by the Saudi government for foreign workers, such as increasing the costs associated with hiring foreigners and limiting work permit quotas, the participation rate of Saudi women in the labor market continues to show a strong positive relationship with the share of non-Saudi workers in the labor market. It appears difficult for Saudi female workers to fulfill the demand for non-Saudi workers because Saudi nationals tend to avoid domestic jobs like private drivers or housekeepers. We believe further social and cultural change will be necessary to expand women’s economic participation in the future, in addition to legal and institutional reform, vocational education, as well as improvements in child care and welfare support. Chapter 5 explores the demand for government-to-government (G2G) cooperation as women’s economic participation expands, focusing on Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and suggests emerging sectors and industries and implications for Korean companies operating in the countries. Korea’s experience in promoting female labor participation for economic development through women’s education and vocational training can be particularly useful to develop female education and training systems in Saudi Arabia. As the government of Saudi Arabia pushes up women’s labor participation, the development of human resources to meet demands in the labor market has become a priority in policies. Korea’s experience of implementing similar policies can be shared with Saudi Arabia in the form of cooperation between related institutes for female education in developing curricula and educational infrastructure. In addition, a platform connecting Saudi students with Korean companies in Saudi Arabia, for instance university student internship programs, can encourage exchanges in the education sector. Meanwhile, the demand for women’s vocational training in Saudi Arabia and the UAE is expected to increase cooperation in the establishment of training facilities and systems as well as training for instructors. As the demand for vocational training instructors is expected to increase, we can expect to see further cooperation in this area. For labor and administrative policies, the export of women’s employment support systems can be a priority item of cooperation. We expect to see a rise in demand for employment information systems within Middle Eastern countries in the near future. Based on the experience and achievements of employment support institutes operated by the Korean government, such as the Women’s New Work Center, we can fully expect further adoption and development of such employment support systems in these countries as well. Second, we can consider sharing policy experiences and know-hows in supporting work-family balance. As women’s economic activities increase in the Middle East, demand for work-family balance and child care systems will increase soon. These countries yet lack sufficient experience and know-how to develop comprehensive and systematic policies. Since Korea has been working on these policies for a long time, such as reforming related laws and establishing and implementing long-term plans since the 1990s, so substantial policy cooperation can be reached in this area. Third, Korea’s labor market forecasting system can be exported to these countries. Forecasting labor future supply and demand is important as demand for substitute workers increases due to a rise in maternity leaves, and this will increase the need for skill in these forecasts as female workers continue to diversify their fields of speciality. We can expect demand for employment forecasting systems developed in Korea. Fourth, joint research projects at women’s policy institutes and researchers can be considered. Joint research between Korea and the Middle Eastern countries can help analyze the situation of the two countries regarding participation in women’s economic activities and to develop new cooperation agenda before launching and scaling up actual cooperation projects. Considering the population, purchasing power, and potential of women-related markets among the Middle East countries, Saudi Arabia and the UAE can be considered Korea’s key partners and promising markets. Korea mainly exports automobiles and their parts, power and construction equipment, and mobile phones to both countries, but the demand for various products is expected to increase due to economic diversification and the expansion of economic activities by women. In particular, changes in women policies, such as easing male guardianship, allowing women to drive, increasing women’s employment, and easing clothing restrictions, will lead to more women making independent consumption decisions and exercising their purchasing powers. This is likely to generate more demand for beauty products and services and travel to Korea with an interest in Korean culture, like the Korean Wave. We expect the export of goods and services matching women’s needs to be promising areas. Meanwhile, Korean companies operating in the region will have to adopt new strategies by identifying policy changes and future demands as Saudi Arabia and the UAE adopt nationalization policies in their labor markets. In the case of Saudi Arabia, where female labor policy is changing rapidly, we can expect to see enormous changes in the business environment. The additional costs incurred by segregating male and female workers in working places will decrease. Meanwhile, localization policies to ensure local content requirements along with nationalization employment policies will make it necessary to consider local joint ventures and production instead of simple export to these markets. Due to the lack of local technical capacity in Saudi Arabia as well as policy interest in local technical training, we can also expect for the operation of private education facilities for vocational and technical education to be a promising area.

Note: Downloadable document is in Korean.

Suggested Citation

Jung, Jae Wook and Son, Sung Hyun and Jang, Yunhee and Kwang Ho, Ryou, 중동 주요국의 여성 경제활동 확대 정책과 한국의 협력 방안: 사우디아라비아와 UAE를 중심으로 (Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Middle East and Implications for Korea, with a Focus on Saudi Arabia and the UAE) (December 30, 2019). KIEP No. 연구보고서 19-04 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3705121 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3705121

Jae Wook Jung (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Sung Hyun Son

Korea Institute for International Economic Policy ( email )

[30147] Building C, Sejong National Research Compl
Seoul, 370
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

Yunhee Jang

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ryou Kwang Ho

Korea Institute for International Economic Policy ( email )

[30147] Building C, Sejong National Research Compl
Seoul, 370
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

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