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A win for women in the Muslim world

We recently partnered with the Financial Times to support two book awards: the Business Book of the Year award and the Bracken Bower Prize for business authors under the age of 35. Thomas Piketty won Business Book of the Year for Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Shortlisted for the Bracken Bower Prize were three inspiring, business-savvy women with their fingers on the pulse of global business. The two runners up were Alysia Garmulewicz for 3-D Printing, Anything, Anywhere and Jenny Palmer for One Level Up. The winning entry demonstrated a deep understanding of global economics and gender in a Muslim environment: Saadia Zahidi's Womenomics in the Muslim World.

Zahidi points to a disconnect in many Muslim communities between the high enrollment rates of women in higher education, which currently surpass those of men, and a culture that dictates that women must focus on the home. She reveals a hidden history of businesswomen in Muslim tradition, starting with the Prophet Muhammad's independently wealthy wife, who was a trader and completely self-sufficient. Zahidi reminds us that there are more than 800 million Muslim women, many of whom will enter the workforce as education and employment for women become normalized. The impact will be felt not only on the shifting cultural dynamics of the family unit, but also on the labor markets of many countries.

Issues surrounding gender, organizations, and leadership in the Muslim world were addressed earlier this year in a report published by our Middle East Office—GCC Women in Leadership: From the first to the norm. Based on interviews with 50 women who are senior leaders and a survey of more than 500 men and women across the Gulf Cooperation Council states, the report focuses on the challenges and opportunities faced by women in the workforce, particularly women in leadership, throughout the GCC—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Find out more about the report on our Middle East office website.

The Bracken Bower Prize is named after Brendan Bracken, chairman of the Financial Times from 1945 to 1958, and Marvin Bower, managing director of McKinsey from 1950 to 1967, who were instrumental in laying the foundations for the present-day success of the two institutions.