By Souad Adnane

Women’s issues have been conceptualized in the international development context in many forms and trends that have affected in a way or another local policies with this regard. Countries of the Arab world, as all the countries who signed and ratified the UN treaties related to gender and women’s issues, have been affected by this international context trying to comply with what they previously agreed upon. Women in Development (WID) has been the first paradigm that framed and oriented local policies. By WID, women’s issues were made relevant to development by arguing for the positive correlation between investing in women and economic growth.

Using a mixture of WID and GAD, I shall make the case for the importance of promoting economic freedom of women in the Arab world in advancing their status and the general economic growth of their countries. The current paper argues in two directions: first in favor of market friendly policies showing how market opportunities could spur investment in girls’ health and education and hence contribute in changing power structures; and second, in favor of a gender sensitive approach that should accompany the market friendly policies, as much as possible, to reduce the entry barriers that limit women’s agency and prevent them from benefiting from such opportunities.

Souad Adnane is a women’s rights activist in Morocco. She served as a project coordinator for five years in different local and international NGOs. She is currently in charge of coordinating and monitoring a community development program aiming at improving life conditions of vulnerable populations in the MENA region. She is also the Foreign Relations Coordinator of the Arab Center for Scientific Research & Humane Studies.

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