According to the World Economic Forum 2016 Global Gender Gap Report, the UAE is ranked as a leading country when it comes to gender equality in the region.
By Manar Al Hinai
The role of women of the region in the economy was very limited. We did not have world renowned businesswomen or ministers of states, and none of our women made it to a Forbes list. Fast forward to the present day, the UAE has made noteworthy progress on the women empowerment front, which has rivalled developed nations worldwide and become a role model for other countries to follow.
According to the World Economic Forum 2016 Global Gender Gap Report, the UAE is ranked as a leading country when it comes to gender equality in the region. In 2015, the UAE established the Gender Balance Council- a federal entity that enhances and increases women’s role in leadership positions. Other organizations such as Dubai Women Establishment (DWE) are actively promoting gender equality not only in the UAE, but within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Among their many initiatives is the UAE Women Leadership Program, which provides leadership training programs for Emirati women.
These efforts stem from a fundamental belief that both genders are equal partners in our society. Our founding father, the late H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan said: “The woman is half of the society; any country which pursues development should not leave her in poverty or illiteracy. I am on the woman’s side.”
Today, Emirate women make up 70% of all university graduates in the UAE. 46% of UAE university graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are women. The literacy rate of Emirati woman is 95.8%. 50% of the employees at the UAE’s Space Program are women. Emirati women also make up 20% of the diplomatic corps including female ambassadors to the United Nations. The UAE is the first country in the region that requires every government organization and every company to have female board members.
UAE women hold significant roles that are shaping our future economy and society. Our Minister of State for Youth Affairs, H.E. Shamma Al Mazrouei, was the youngest appointed minister in the world at 22 in 2016. H.E. Reem Al Hashimy is a Minister of State and the Managing Director of Expo 2020, the world fair that’s hosted in Dubai and Middle East for the first time in history. Abu Dhabi’s Media Zone Authority and twofour54 are also spearheaded by a remarkable woman, H.E. Maryam Al Mheiri. When she was appointed in 2015, H.E Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi became the first leader of a national assembly in the UAE and the Arab World.
Having made a significant progress on the women empowerment front, there is no slowing down Emirati women. In celebration of International Women’s Day, I could not be prouder of my fellow Emirati women, and the milestones they are achieving on many fronts. Women today not only lead roles in industries once deemed only for men, but they have taken on new roles that were non-existent anywhere else, and proved to be an inspirational success.
I have travelled the world, and lived abroad, but the passion and determination that I see injected into the work of my fellow Emirati women is incomparable. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for us.
*Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. You’re reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
Manar Al Hinai is Managing Director, Move Consultancy, Women in Africa.