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UAE is first in Arab world for gender equality

issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com Filed on March 31, 2021 | Last updated on April 1, 2021 at 07.13 am
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Currently, the UAE also ranks among the top five countries in the world that have made remarkable headway in this aspect in 2020.

The UAE ranks first among Arab countries in the advancement towards bridging the gender gap and striving for gender equality as globally the time estimated to close the gender gap has increased by a generation -- from 99.5 to 135.6 years, according to the World Economic Forum.

During the pandemic-hit 2020, when globally, progress towards gender parity was stalled in several large economies, the UAE achieved a significant improvement of 48 positions through its bold strides towards the goal of gender equality, WEF said in its Global Gender Gap REport 2021

Currently, the UAE also ranks among the top five countries in the world that have made remarkable headway in this aspect in 2020. "Having moved forward a total of 48 placements, the UAE has once again topped the region, followed by Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan," said the report.

The UAE's leadership position in the region is an indication that it maintains the momentum despite the adverse impacts caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which had a significant effect on the performance of countries around the world, said the report.

The UAE has so far bridged 71.6 per cent of its gender gap, several performance indicators have witnessed improvement, such as the political empowerment indicator, which saw closure of 4.03 of the gap, here the UAE ranks 24th globally compared to 75th last year.

As for the economic participation and opportunity indicator, the UAE closed 5.10, compared to 4.72 last year. "Overall, wage equality for similar work, and the estimated earned income have both improved, additionally, the number of female legislators, senior officials and managers have also seen an increase," said the report.

Roberto Crotti, quantitative economist and manager with the Global Competitiveness and Risk at the WEF, said the UAE is one of the most improved countries in the 2021 edition of the Global Gender Gap Index. It has closed its overall gender gap by over six percentage points, climbing 48 positions to the 72nd place. Since the previous Global Gender Gap edition, the country has narrowed gaps both in terms of Political Empowerment and in terms of Economic Participation and Opportunity."

"Although there are still gaps to be closed, the country is progressing at a fast pace. Notably, the country has achieved equal representation of women and men in the parliament," he added.

Now in its 15th year, the report benchmarks the evolution of gender-based gaps in four areas: economic participation and opportunity; educational attainment; health and survival; and political empowerment.

Progress towards gender parity is stalling in several large economies and industries. This is partly due to women being more frequently employed in sectors hardest hit by lockdowns combined with the additional pressures of providing care at home, said the report.

The Middle East and North Africa region continues to have the largest gender gap (39.1 per cent) yet to be closed.

The deterioration in 2021 is partly attributed to a widening political gender gap in several large population countries. Despite over half of the 156 indexed countries registering an improvement, women still hold only 26.1 per cent of parliamentary seats and 22.6 per cent of ministerial positions worldwide. On its current trajectory, the political gender gap is expected to take 145.5 years to close, compared to 95 years in the 2020 edition of the report, an increase of over 50 per cent.

The pandemic has had a more negative impact on women than men, with women losing jobs at higher rates (5.0 per cent vs 3.9 per cent among men).

Data from the United States also indicates that women from historically disadvantaged racial and ethnic groups are worst affected

The economic gender gap has seen only a marginal improvement since 2020 edition and is expected to take another 267.6 years to close. Although these findings are sobering, gender gaps in education and health are nearly closed. In education, while 37 countries have reached gender parity, it will take another 14.2 years to completely close this gap due to slowing progress. In health, over 95 per cent of this gender gap has been closed, registering a marginal decline since last year.

"The pandemic has fundamentally impacted gender equality in both the workplace and the home, rolling back years of progress. If we want a dynamic future economy, it is vital for women to be represented in the jobs of tomorrow. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to focus leadership attention, commit to firm targets and mobilize resources. This is the moment to embed gender parity by design into the recovery," said Saadia Zahidi, managing director, WEF.

issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com

author

Issac John

Editorial Director of Khaleej Times, is a well-connected Indian journalist and an economic and financial commentator. He has been in the UAE's mainstream journalism for 35 years, including 23 years with Khaleej Times. A post-graduate in English and graduate in economics, he has won over two dozen awards. Acclaimed for his authentic and insightful analysis of global and regional businesses and economic trends, he is respected for his astute understanding of the local business scene.





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