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Employment - Lebanon

A large majority of young Lebanese women are either already working or intend to pursue a career in the future. Twenty-seven percent of women under 25 are currently working and 60% plan to work in the future. Meanwhile, only 13% have no intention of pursuing a career.

Nevertheless, although a majority of young women say they intend to work, a minority of Lebanese women currently do so (37%).

  • More than twice as many men as women report having worked for pay in the previous week (Figure 4).


  • Labor force participation among women decreases with age: 44% of women 18 to 35 work and this number drops to 38% for the 36 to 55 age group. This may reflect women leaving the labor force once they marry or have children.
  • By far the most common reason for women not working for pay is their duties as housewives, followed distantly by those who are full-time students. Among men, 26% cite a lack of available work (the most common response), while only 8% of women give this response (Table 2).
  • An overwhelming majority of working women and men in Lebanon work only one job. Only 4% of working women and 8% of working men had more than one job in the previous week.

Pluralities of both women and men work in the trade-selling industry, followed in both cases by service-sector occupations. Here the two populations diverge: women are more likely to work in the education or health fields while men are more likely to work in manufacturing or processing (Table 3).

  • Across sects, women work in the same fields: trade-selling, services, and education.
  • Overall, the occupational categories for women and men are similar (Figures 5 & 6).

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  • Four in ten working women are employed in the service sector or are sellers in shops and markets. In general, men work in similar fields as women, though there are exceptions.
  • Men are less likely than women to be specialists and more likely to be handicrafts workers or similar employees.
  • Eight percent of men work as machine operators and assemblers. Almost no women work in this occupation.

Women around the world are more likely than their male counterparts to work part-time in order to balance household and family duties. Lebanon is no exception, but after taking into account men’s much greater likelihood of working, among men and women who are employed, the differences between men’s and women’s employment patterns are surprisingly small. While women are twice as likely as men to report being employed part time (12% vs. 6%), more than three quarters of working women and eight in ten working men do so on a full-time basis.  Ten percent of women and 11% of men work during their “free time”, while only 2% among either group works seasonally. Though women and men work in similar occupations and similar hours, there are important differences in how women are compensated for their work (Figure 7).

  • Nearly two thirds of working women work for wages or a salary, compared to 44% of men. Similar numbers work informally, on an hourly basis (Figure 7).

  • Forty-six percent of men are self-employed, compared to only 26% of women. Thus, men are likelier to own their own businesses while women are most likely to be employees.
  • Shia Muslims are somewhat more likely than Sunni Muslims or Christians to work in the public sector, though a large majority of working members of all sects work in the private sector.
  • There are no significant differences in the sectors in which women and men work. Among all workers, 86% work in the private sector, 9% work in the public sector, and the remainder work for government owned corporations or for families.