Inequality is a global reality, and the countries of the Middle East and North Africa are no exception. Widespread social and economic inequality has only deepened in recent decades, with many people living in intolerable conditions and in fragmented or polarized societies. Modern glass and steel towers, billboards with unaffordable products, and gated communities coexist with extreme poverty. In a region where the majority is under the age of 35 and most economies struggle to create enough decent jobs with social protection for all, young people are hit the hardest. Young women and refugees fleeing conflict face additional barriers to reaching their full potential.
Recent years have seen a number of promising developments. A number of countries in the region have new constitutions that uphold universal rights. The region’s civil society, including the vivacious arts and culture community, advance the promise of more inclusion. Alongside efforts to create jobs and provide social services, the public is increasingly engaged in finding ways to ensure social protection and strengthen civic participation. Together with the growth of community foundations, social entrepreneurship, and philanthropy, these developments offer 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.