“The woman is half of the society; any country which pursues development should not leave her in poverty or illiteracy” – Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Today the UAE is at the forefront of women’s empowerment in the gulf region, fulfilling the dream of the nation’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. As the late Sheikh had envisioned every Emirati woman to be free of poverty and illiteracy, his vision seems to be on track as the UAE celebrates the Emirati Women’s Day on August 28.
According to a UAE Ministry of State for Federal National Council Affairs (MFNCA) report, women account for 59% of the national UAE labour force market. This is by no means a small feat for a country where it was taboo for women to step outside their homes at one time.
From being the first country to pass a law that makes female board members mandatory in every company and government agency, to having 30% of its cabinet members as women and 20% of women comprising its diplomatic corps, to a country that has 19 women on the Forbes’ list of 100 most powerful Arab Businesswomen, UAE has come a long way in its agenda of putting women at the centre of development. With more and more Emirati women entering the workplace and gaining positions of power, gender barriers are continuously being broken down nationwide.
Equality at work: The UAE Model
Things changed when Shaikh Zayed opened the doors to education for women and handpicked them for their first jobs. Since then, UAE has left no stone unturned in reducing gender disparity. The government has set up a Gender Balance Council to ensure women have equal opportunities and representation in the public sector in line with the nation’s founding principles. In fact, the 2017 World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report ranks the UAE as second highest among other countries in the region, making it easy for women to find a job. That is the reason why today, Emirati women hold around 66% of the public sector, 40% of the education sector, 35% of the health sector, and 20% the social affairs sector jobs in the country.
In world where women are still struggling to find equality, despite work opportunities and exposure to education, it’s heartening to read that Emirati women are treated equally and with respect at their workplace. Moreover, the Cabinet recently approved the issuance of legislation that will ensure that women get equal salaries and opportunities, making the UAE workplace a model of gender equality.
The Road Ahead
Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union and the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, has time and again iterated that the current President supports the vision of the founding father. While there has been a significant increase in the number of women joining workforce, the ratio of women to men in top positions still remains low.
As they continue this journey, Monster Gulf supports the courageous women of UAE and strives to bring the most rewarding of workplace opportunities for them. This Women’s Day, we celebrate the indefatigable spirit of Emirati women.