Original Research

What are the drivers of female labour market participation in North Africa?

Freeman M. Mateko
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 27, No 1 | a5179 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v27i1.5179 | © 2024 Freeman M. Mateko | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 June 2023 | Published: 15 April 2024

About the author(s)

Freeman M. Mateko, South African Research Chair in Industrial Development, Faculty of Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: The participation of female labour is essential for promoting industrialisation. North African economies are plagued by low levels of female labour force participation (FLP) and high gender inequality gaps. Low levels of FLP are detrimental to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, such as gender equality, decent work, and economic growth, as well as reduced inequalities.

Aim: This research aimed to establish the determinants of FLP in North Africa.

Setting: North Africa.

Method: The research adopted the Panel Auto Regressive Distributed Lag. Data were sourced from the World Bank for the period 1991–2021.

Results: The empirical findings showed that the lack of gender-sensitive policies, limited investment in education and institutional barriers limit the capacity of women to participate in the labour market. Primary research findings depicted that the Human Development Index (HDI), fertility rate and life expectancy had a positive impact on FLP in the long run. Economic growth had a positive effect on FLP in the short run.

Conclusion: It was concluded that North African governments need to develop policies that advance the interests of women, as well as the implementation of women empowerment programmes.

Contribution: The findings of the study imply that addressing FLP requires collaborative efforts from the governments and other stakeholders and this helps in reducing gender inequality.


female labour force participation; gender inequality gap; industrialisation; labour market; poverty; sustainable development goals.

JEL Codes

E60: General

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth


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