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Trade liberalization and women empowerment in the Arab countries

Nahil Saqfalhait (Department of Economics, Faculty of Business, The University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan)
Khawlah AbdAlla Spetan (Department of Economics, Faculty of Business, The University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan)
Taleb Awad-Warrad (Department of Economics, Faculty of Business, The University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan)
Mohammad W. Alomari (Department of Finance and Economics, College of Commerce and Business Administration, Dhofar University, Salalah, Oman) (Department of Economics, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, The Hashemite University, Zarqa, Jordan)

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Article publication date: 3 January 2023

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper investigates the impact of trade liberalization measured by trade openness (OPN) and tariffs on women empowerment measured by the gender gap index and gender development index, for two groups of Arab countries divided based on their income levels using annual data for the period 1995–2020. The study also considers other factors that may influence the gender gap, such as GDP growth and the female unemployment rate. The purpose of this paper is to address these issues and explorers whether the effects of trade liberalization differ based on the countries' income levels.

Design/methodology/approach

This study employs the fully modified ordinary least squares (FM-OLS) regression model for heterogeneous cointegrated panels to examine the impact of trade liberalization on women empowerment. The study constructs an empirical two regression model of women empowerment measured by the gender gap model and gender development model for the two groups of higher-income countries and lower and middle-income countries.

Findings

The authors’ findings reveal that the impact of OPN on the gender gap varies between the two groups of Arab countries where more OPN within the higher-income group may increase the gender disparity, while it may reduce disparity within the lower and middle-income countries. In addition, GDP growth may reduce the gender disparity, while female unemployment raises the gender disparity between the two groups of countries in the long run. Findings also reveal that more OPN, tariffs and female unemployment may reduce gender development within the two groups, but more GDP growth may support the gender development in the long run.

Originality/value

This paper not only assesses the impact of trade liberalization on women empowerment generally, but also assess the women empowerment via two indices that are the gender gap and gender development in Arab countries which is – to the knowledge of the researchers – not yet investigated; further it explores if the effects of trade liberalization differs based on the countries' income levels.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This paper has been granted by the WTO Chair Program at The University of Jordan.

Citation

Saqfalhait, N., AbdAlla Spetan, K., Awad-Warrad, T. and Alomari, M.W. (2023), "Trade liberalization and women empowerment in the Arab countries", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJGE-07-2022-0113

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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