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Priority Areas For Gender Research 

Three types of Research Activities

  1. Adding a gender component/module to existing research programs/projects, for example, introducing genderbudgeting into research on budget procedures and fiscal analysis.
  2. Expanding and building on ongoing research that includes a gender component, for example, pursuing panel data and analysis on the gender module of medium, small and micro enterprise related research.
  3. Incorporating the economic discipline in the methodology of gender research, for example, with regard issues of efficiency and cost recovery in Reproductive Health and/or in Preschool Education.


Priority is given to a number of critical topics. To the extent possible, priority goes to (a) cross-country proposals that cut across disciplines, (b) proposals that address collection of new cross-country data, and (c) engage younger researchers. A sample of topics is listed below, but identifying research areas of gender relevance is an ongoing process and could include brainstorming workshops, or the participation of think tanks, stakeholders and interest groups in the formulation of other vital research questions. 

Some Proposed Research Areas Supported by GERPA: 

  • Female Participation in the MENA Labor Market
  • Education and Training as the Vehicle for Female Empowerment
  • Health Reform and the Role of Women as Providers and Beneficiaries
  • Gender Budgeting in the Context of a Welfare State
  • The Role of Civil Society in Enhancing the Status of Women
  • Institutional and Legal Reforms for Gender Empowerment
  • Gender Challenges of the Demographic Transition
  • Globalization and New Opportunities for Women


Detailed Research Themes and Topics

1.Gender Empowerment Measures and Analysis
Evolution in indicators and measurement issues; trends and relationships between indicators and conceptual frameworks; gender gaps and the Millennium Development Goals; comparative country performance in MENA in eliminating gender gaps; human development indicators disaggregated by national sub regions and by urban and rural divides; simple and composite indicators of economic, social, and political empowerment.

2.Effectiveness of Poverty Reduction Interventions
Cost-benefit analysis of anti-poverty programs (income support, credit, health, education, or combined interventions); identification and documentation of best practices in the MENA region; evaluation of scaling up efforts and factors of strengths and weaknesses of programs; comparison of sector specific programs across MENA countries; application of lessons from approaches of successful programs in developing countries (e.g. Child's Solidario, Mexico's Progresa, Bangladesh's Grameen, India's SEWA); Trends in various measures of poverty by country and regional comparison; trends in equality and correlations with various macroeconomic policies; gender specific trends in poverty and their determinants; targeted subsidies.

3.Education and Training to Eliminate Gender Gaps
The dimensions of gender inequality in education and enrollment rates at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels; evaluation of girl-friendly school initiatives and reforms; issues of quality in education and the links between education and training systems and their corresponding impact on employment and incomes of poor women; the specific skills and knowledge needed by women to succeed in the workforce; the institutional and policy framework of preschool education; the economic costs of low enrollment of girls on productivity and national growth.

4.Health Reform in Favor of Gender Equity
The costs of poor reproductive health for households and the economic burden of reproductive health services; the relationships between poor outcomes in reproductive health with other types of socio-economic disadvantages; the socio-economic risk factors and the long-term socio-economic consequences of poor reproductive health on women and other members of their households; issues of fertility reduction; the prevalence of domestic violence and its variations in different settings and countries; the variables or factors associated with domestic violence; the impact of health sector reforms (including user charges, decentralization, privatization of services, integration of service delivery, and public-private partnerships) on health outcomes for women; a gender analysis of health sector reform and the integration of reproductive health and other women's health issues into reforms.

5.Female Participation in the Labor Market
Gender constraints to employment in the formal sector; the differences among challenges facing women working in different sectors; women's work in the informal sector; the collection of time-use data for a complete understanding of women's productive activities; the differential effects of poor working conditions and/ or lack of social protection (pensions, social security benefits) on women in the informal sector; the role of collective unions to protect women in the informal sector; discrimination against women in the workplace; diversification of women's work opportunities away from traditional female jobs; the implementation of special labor regulations for women in the workplace (i.e. maternity benefits and working hour restrictions) and their effect on women's employment; women's work and its effect on women's health, especially women's reproductive health; the impact of the 'feminization of the labor force' on reproductive rights; women's role as caregivers and the challenges in balancing caregiving roles with labor market participation.

6.Female Entrepreneurship and Innovation
The role of women entrepreneurs in the MENA, constraint and obstacles of female entrepreneurs; constraints to the formalization of women's enterprises; gender specific incentives needed to encourage formalization of women's enterprises; women's motivations for stating businesses, the regulatory framework and conditions of credit for women-owned small businesses; best practice microcredit programs in the region; the impacts of microcredit programs on women's empowerment; the effect of microcredit on the creation and expansion of women-owned enterprises; the ways that entrepreneurship can help women find a balance between family and work, the potential of franchising to promote greater entrepreneurship among women.

7.Gender Opportunities from Trade and Globalization
The effect of structural changes and economic reforms on women's employment; the effects of globalization on employment opportunities for women; changes in working conditions for women due to globalization; the effect of globalization on the gender wage gap; the regional variations in women's employment resulting from globalization; the effect of greater specialization in export commodities on women's employment in the region; the effects of globalization and trade liberalization on women's work in the informal sector.

8.Gender and Institutional Reform
Institutional reforms undertaken to promote gender equality, including constitutional revisions and legislative quotas, and their impact on women's equality and empowerment; the determinants of higher access to formal politics for women; identification of the features of a political system most likely to support a gender-sensitive legislative agenda; measures necessary to increase women's political participation from the grassroots level to the legislative branch; the impact of women's machineries (national councils for women, ministerial gender units) on women's equality and empowerment; the role of international women's movements and other international agencies and donors in influencing policies related to gender equality; gender-sensitive budget analysis of government revenues and expenditures; the relationship between the different types of government revenue-raising mechanisms and their impact on women.

9.Gender and Cultural Change
Variations in reforms of personal status laws throughout the region; the relationship between religious discourse and women's empowerment; the factors and conditions that make reforms in family laws possible, the impact of customary law and religious discourse on policy decisions regarding gender equality; the gender asset gap and the effect of traditional inheritance mechanisms on women's accumulation of assets; changes in the structure of families in the region (including divorce, female-headed households, widowhood, late marriage), gender bias in social security laws.

10.Decentralization and Gender Participation
Situation of gender within concepts and measurements of administrative, fiscal and political decentralization; decentralization and access and quality of public services; public-private participation in urban and rural service delivery, decentralization, and anti-corruption initiatives; political, administrative and fiscal obstacles to decentralization; the participation of women in decision making at the sectoral, political, and administrative levels (education, health, representative councils, and local government).
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Last update December 18, 2017