UAE women rising in positions of power and influence
Women in the UAE are influencing cultural and economical advancements for their country.
More and more UAE women are finding seats at the table. From government cabinets and multinational boardrooms to mentoring and funding associations and CEOs of their own startups, women in the UAE are influencing cultural and economical advancements for their country.
The uae is a leader in the Middle East in terms of closing the gender gap in business and government. Maryam Mohammed Al-Rumathi, Chairwoman of the Emirates Business Women Council, reports that women now occupy seven out of 40 seats on the National Union Council; businesswomen account for 15 per cent of board seats for UAE chambers of commerce and industry; and women-owned businesses contribute 10 per cent of the total value of the private sector in the UAE.
Managing Director of Al Gurg Group Raja Easa Al Gurg is a potent example of women rising in power and influence. Ranked second in Forbes list of most powerful Arab women in the business category, Raja Al Gurg also holds a place on Forbes most powerful women in the world list for 2015.
Chief executive of Al Jaber Group Fatima Al Jaber and CEO of GE Gulf Dalya Al Muthanna also make Forbes most powerful Arab women list in the business category. In government, Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister for International Cooperation & Development, and Maryam Mohammed Al Roumi, Minister of Social Affairs, are recognised for their contributions in advancing the UAE.
Moving women into the private and public sectors is essential for the UAE to realise its aspirations to become a major player in the global economy as a diverse and innovative contender.
As director of the International Money Fund Christine Lagarde points out: the gender gap in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region's labour force is almost triple the average of that in other developing regions. If this gap had been reduced to just double the average in the past decade, Gulf countries could have seen $1 trillion in output or annual gains of six percent of the GDP.
Global management consultants A.T. Kearney report that reducing the gender gap by just 25 per cent can add 100 million women to the labour force by 2025 and increase the size of the OECD economy by 12 per cent by 2030.
While the UAE is a leader in the region in terms of women entering the workforce, with a 63 per cent increase, the ratio of women to men in senior positions in the Gulf countries remains one of the lowest in the world, an average of just nine per cent in GCC countries compared to 35 per cent in the Americas, 29 per cent in Africa and 21 per cent in Europe. Across the world in 2014, 17 per cent of Fortune 500 board seats were held by women. In GCC countries during the same year, women-held board seats ranged from 0.01 per cent to 1.7 per cent.
Emirati women constitute 76.8 per cent of those enrolled in UAE universities, far surpassing the educational levels of men in the region, but education levels haven't translated into a commensurate rise of their numbers into positions of power and influence.
The government is keen to support women in the workforce, their place on boards and their ability to start their own businesses with initiatives like compulsory quotas for board membership and startup funding. Yet Emirati women only own two and a half percent of small and medium enterprises in the country.
(To be concluded)
The writer is business startup strategist and founder of Wealth Dynamics Unlimiteg. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.
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