Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Egypt has one of the lowest female labor participation rates in the world. Based on ethnographic research, this working paper argues that women in Egypt, particularly young women, face job-quality issues that discourage them from continuing to work or even entering the labor market. The paper highlights women’s, particularly young women’s, valorization of jobs in the public sec-tor and with the government, even if untenable. Discussed are the advantages presented by the public sector in Egypt, why those jobs are valorized by women, and the strategies young women adopt in clinging to the hope of getting a public sector/government job. Also examined are the reasons young women provide for their limited labor-market participation. The paper argues that these reasons are primarily related to job-quality issues and lack of decent work in the predominantly informal private sector in Egypt.