DWE initiatives boost UAE women's confidence
Shamsa Saleh, CEO of DWE and Omar Khalifa, Deputy CEO of BRL DED
The UAE has been at the forefront granting women equally level playing fields to reduce the gender imbalance
Dubai Women Establishment (DWE) has been undertaking initiatives to encourage Emirati women to tap the complete potential offered by the leadership aiming to boost their contribution to the UAE's economic growth as well as scale heights in development and growth.
The year embarked with continuity of 'Qudwa' - Arabic for 'role models' - an initiative that creates a platform for female Emirati role models to share their knowledge, skills and experience with national women across all strata of society. The initiative seeks to empower national women to further contribute to the development of the UAE.
In line with the values of the 'Year of Zayed', Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of DWE, and wife of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and UAE Minister of Presidential Affairs, has announced the continuation of the "Qudwa" initiative throughout 2018. This will extend the benefits of the initiative to more female students, graduates and professionals through engagement with established female Emirati leaders across various fields.
Sheikha Manal said: "The UAE was built upon foundations of unlimited giving and generosity, inspired by the teachings and values of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan which are firmly rooted within our culture. Emirati women exemplify these values and continue to play a key role in the UAE's ongoing success story. Through the "Qudwa" sessions, we are working to share the professional and personal experiences of these inspirational women amongst the younger generations. The initiative therefore provides a powerful platform for young women to learn from the achievements and wisdom of today's female Emirati leaders, as well as the challenges they have overcome."
Sheikha Manal highlighted that knowledge, innovation and human development are key pillars of the UAE's continued journey of growth and progression, adding: "The UAE has placed a strong emphasis on investing in people and equipping Emirati women with the knowledge and skills required to further enhance their contribution to the nation's development. The "Qudwa" initiative is a testament to DWE's commitment to develop programmes that promote the active participation of Emirati women across all fields".
To date, the initiative has reached over 1,000 students across the UAE from Zayed University's Abu Dhabi and Dubai campuses, along with the United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain, University of Sharjah and the Higher College of Technology in Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.
In another major drive, the DWE in collaboration with the Department of Economic Development (DED), launched 'Insta Hub - a platform for women e-Traders', as the first of various initiatives and projects which the two parties plan to launch over the coming months.
'Insta Hub - a platform for women e-Traders' has been organised to help UAE and GCC female nationals who own e-businesses in marketing their products and services and reaching a larger range of consumers inside and outside of the country, through the e-Traders licences issued by DED to conduct business activities on social networking sites.
The 'Insta Hub' event was part of a partnership agreement signed between DWE- DED to register 36 e-Trader licences free-of-charge to UAE and GCC women who have established businesses on social networking sites. DWE supports female DED e-Trader licence holders by sharing details about their events with DWE's database and Dubai Ladies Club members, and promoting them via the Establishment's social media channels. DWE also provides the women e-Traders with a 30 per cent discount on annual membership and services provided by Dubai Ladies Club and the 'Al Asalla Spa', and organises exhibitions for their products and services at the Club's premises.
The agreement was signed by Shamsa Saleh, CEO of Dubai Women Establishment, and Omar Khalifa, Deputy CEO of Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection (CCCP) sector in DED. Saleh expressed her satisfaction with the strategic partnership signed with DED, and explained that the partnership comes in line with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for government entities to enhance cooperation, exchange experiences, and implement best practices in order to serve the public interest.
Saleh stated that she is committed to supporting Emirati women and providing them with the tools required to develop their skills, by launching innovative initiatives and programmes that support DWE's vision to enhance the participation of Emirati women.
UAE women chalk path to success
The UAE has indeed made a strong mark among its peers by encouraging women to come forward and make use of all the facilities that help them make their dream of being entrepreneurs into a reality. The nation has been at the forefront to boost the economy by granting women equally level playing fields and paring the gender balance imbalance.
The wave of change is evident as more and more corporates encourage women participation at the boardroom level to the CEOs and Cabinet Ministers.
Alida Scholtz, CEO and MD, G4S UAE, said: "UAE places great importance on the contribution of women to the economy. This is because of the vision of the UAE leadership and their keenness to empower women with education and skills that prepares them to be the leaders and change agents of tomorrow.
"The UAE leadership has created tremendous opportunities not only for men, but also for women to thrive in the society and contribute to the economy, where they all have a direct impact on the overall progress and growth of their nation. It is amazing to witness how women have embraced the change in their role in society - with pride and success. Women will continue to play an important role, with men as their partners, in achieving their nation's vision."
According to reports in media, women now comprise 8/29 cabinet members, including the high-profile Ministers of Youth, and Happiness, 9/40 (22.5 per cent) members of the Federal National Council, 43 per cent of the Emirati workforce, 66 per cent of government sector workforce, 30 per cent of senior decision-making posts, 30 per cent of the diplomatic corps and 15 per cent of professional posts. Women constitute 71 per cent of students at government universities and 50 per cent of students in private universities and colleges.
Modupe Omonze, founder, Runway Dubai, said: "The number of women in leadership positions have grown tremendously since my first move to the UAE. The government has done a spectacular job in introducing many initiatives to empower women. This encouraging growth has seen women across all roles in private sectors, to the roles in global affairs, management and education, Women are making a positive and meaningful impact in our society. I have had the opportunity to speak to a lot of women here, from different nationalities. I have also had conversations with local women who are breaking glass ceilings with impressive leadership roles that they have played in our society. The confidence level of women in this part of the region is supported by the great leaders of this nation. We are encouraged to do more as women, and we look forward to making change through more prominent roles and initiatives."
The spurt in women at corporate levels has been phenomenal as more and more women occupy senior positions at workplace contributing to UAE's economic growth. Pui-Chi Li, head of marketing, Middle East and Africa, Xerox, said: "Since joining Xerox as the first female head of marketing in the Middle East in 2016, I have first and foremost focused on aligning our strategies to UAE's vision of digital transformation. To contribute towards the region's prospering economy, we must learn to value the impact of digitisation on our firms' top-line growth. Middle East's growth into a unified digital market is predicted to contribute up to $95 billion to GDP, almost 4 per cent annually. In fact, the UAE government could increase its GDP by $13.8 billion by 2020 if businesses and the government enhance their digital accelerators. Legacy-rich companies, such as Xerox, are ever-evolving to find innovative ways to better connect and add value to our customers across the technology and work field spectrum."
Li further said: "With governments pushing the boundaries to achieve national visions focused on driving economic growth in the UAE through digitisation, such as the UAE Vision 2021, we are at the brink of a change. As forward-thinking organisations, it is essential to understand that digital transformation will help UAE achieve the goal of utilising resources efficiently, boosting its economy and achieving superior business results. As women in leadership, we can actively contribute to UAE's flourishing economy by implementing key strategies that drive innovation into reality."
Echoing similar positive sentiment is Alia Khan, chairwoman of Islamic Fashion & Design Council (IFDC), who believes that the UAE is the epitome of the best of both worlds. They maintain their values and traditions while appreciating the progressive and out-of-the-box thinking that we witness in all corners of the world. Being that open-minded tends to benefit their position on women's empowerment.
"Over the past few years, the UAE has made tremendous progress in that aspect and promoted women in leadership positions. Personally, I have been working with women and the organisation that I chair, IFDC (Islamic Fashion & Design Council), has been supported by the Dubai Islamic Economic Development Centre since inception. As the fashion and design industries are still mainly female-dominated, this has had a ripple effect and contributed to supporting the growth of many women-led businesses here and beyond, which we are grateful for," says Khan.
Rachel Pether, CFA, Senior Advisor & Co-Host, Follow the Money, Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, said: "History has repeatedly taught us that the empowerment of women is a successful strategy for achieving sustained economic growth and productivity. As a female investment professional living and working in the UAE for the past decade, I have always felt fully supported in my career development and personal growth - in both the public sector (with Mubadala Investment Company) and the private sector (Heirloom Investment Management). This support for gender equality has also been a top-down approach - the country's leadership has enabled women to get greater exposure to, and therefore develop capability in, executive roles.
"I firmly believe that any gender gap is largely driven by confidence, and the lack of confidence many women feel in male-dominated industries. Fortunately, a substantial part of building confidence is what psychologists call volitional: our choice. As per the brilliant "The Confidence Code - the Science and Art of Self-Assurance," the qualities required for action include self-esteem ("I feel good about myself"), optimism ("This is great"), self-compassion ("I screwed up, but that's okay"), and self-efficacy ("I can do this"). Confidence begets action and action also begets confidence, with experience being the best teacher. While the leadership of a country can put the mechanisms in place to enable women empowerment, it is really up to the individual to forge their own path."
Road to success
- Sheikh Zayed deeply instilled the values of giving across our society, establishing a culture of generosity that transcends generations. Emirati women exemplify these values and continue to play an important role in the UAE's ongoing success story.
- Knowledge, innovation and human development are key pillars of the UAE's continued journey towards a prosperous future.
- The 'Qudwa' initiative was launched in line with Dubai Women Establishment's vision to equip Emirati women with the knowledge and skills required to further enhance their contribution to the nation's development.
Sandhya D'Mello is Senior Sub-editor/Reporter of Khaleej Times