Pakistan, Iran, and nations in the Middle East are among the countries that are least likely to have job opportunities for women, resulting in high rates of female unemployment there, the United Nations has found.
A report from the UN's International Labor Organization released late on March 7, on the eve of International Women's Day, said that the unemployment rate for women in the Middle East is twice that of men -- 16.3 percent versus 6.8 percent -- and working women there often fill the lowest-wage, lowest-skilled jobs.
"The incentive for women to work in the Middle East is not there," said Emanuela Pozzan, a UN gender specialist.
"The jobs are not attractive because the salaries are not attractive," she said, adding that maternity leave and child-care services needed by working women are also "poor" in the region.
Globally, about half of women work, while only 19 percent of women work in the Middle East and 28 percent in South Asia, the UN report found.
A ranking of the world's 144 nations last month by the UN found that Syria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran offered the fewest job opportunities and least workforce participation for women.
The pay gap between men and women performing the same jobs in those countries is at least 65 percent, the World Economic Forum has found.
Globally, women continue to lag men in pay and jobs but not as badly as in the Middle East, the UN report found.
Women on average earn 20 percent less than men worldwide, while their unemployment rate was only somewhat higher at 6 percent, compared to 5.2 percent for men.
While about half of women work worldwide, about three-quarters of all men have jobs -- a rate that is only somewhat higher in the Middle East and South Asia.
Women fare better in developed countries than in developing economies, the UN found.