Blockchain offers a way for women to get involved in an industry where the rules haven’t been defined and control their financial lives
Across the globe, women have been sidelined when it comes to finance and technology, and the Middle East is no exception. Luckily, things are changing, and the internet is providing new opportunities for learning and inclusion.
Blockchain offers a blank slate in the Middle East: a new industry where the rules have not yet been fully defined and where women can get involved and make it their own when given the right tools.
It is no secret that in areas of the Middle East, women have far less financial autonomy in society than men. A 2020 McKinsey report on “women at work” in the Middle East found high inequalities persist, most notably in legal protection and financial inclusion with a significant number of women in the region remaining unbanked.
The distribution of knowledge is more egalitarian nowadays, as anyone with access to the internet can learn to code or trade. Decentralized finance (DeFi) can help to level the playing field when it comes to women’s finances, removing the need for intermediaries and reliance on centralized institutions that often fail to safeguard their money.
Brilliant initiatives such as All Girls Code are shaking up the status quo in the region by encouraging women to code and study science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects at an university. Elsewhere, associations such as Arab Women In Code are leading the charge in giving women more skills. In my father’s home country of Lebanon, this institution was involved in hosting the first all-female hackathon in 2015, and similar events have continued to gain momentum since then.
Where permitted, women in the Middle East stand to benefit disproportionately from access to cryptocurrency. The decentralized and anonymous nature of crypto transactions means that women will not be discriminated against based on their gender and can take control of their money without the involvement of intermediaries.