What inequality looks like
Behind the headlines lies a region where people have made a clear demand for dignity and equal opportunity. Grappling with devastating conflicts, mass displacements of people, and widespread social and economic inequality, the countries of the Middle East and North Africa region are navigating a period of profound challenge and transformation.
To release the region’s rich tradition, spirit, and innovation, there cannot be business as usual. Newly forged partnerships need to address the future of work, systems of social protection, fair investments in human capital and urban development, open public space, and equitable expenditure of public resources.
In particular, attention must be focused on youth, women, and migrants and refugees. Indeed, in a region where the majority of people are under the age of 35, its inequalities hit young people hard, and especially affect young women, who face multiple barriers to realizing their potential. Further, despite having only 5 percent of the world's population, the region accounts for nearly half the world’s refugees and displaced persons—intensifying inequality in countries that are now host to millions of displaced people.
Support for meaningful, sustainable social justice
Fortunately, there are promising signs in the region. With new constitutions that uphold universal rights; a civil society that offers ideas for achieving more inclusive economies; healthy debate on basic services, education, and civic participation; and the growth of social entrepreneurship and Arab philanthropy, there is much to build upon.
We believe that, despite the profound challenges the region faces, inequality can be tackled by investing in the vibrancy and resilience of the region’s people—specifically by expanding opportunities for learning, opening access to economic opportunity and dignified urban living, and promoting a diversity of creative expression. And we believe that these investments can be attained only by fostering understanding and partnership between a resilient civil society, accountable governments, and responsible businesses.