Sunday 26 March 2017 - 1:10 pm

Tue 07-03-2017 13:13 PM

UAE leads gender equality in region: Noura Al Suwaidi

by Nour Salman

ABU DHABI, 7th March, 2017 (WAM) -- According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, it will take 170 years to close the economic gender gap, and as such, on International Women’s Day on 8th March, UN Women is calling on society to "Step It Up for Gender Equality towards a Planet 50-50 by 2030".

The theme corresponds with the Sustainable Development Goals, SDG, adopted by world leaders that place gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

According to a statement from UN Women, "Achievement of the goals, including ending poverty, promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, reducing inequalities within and between countries, and achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls, rests upon unlocking the full potential of women in the world of work."

According to Noura Khalifa Al Suwaidi, Director-General of the General Women's Union, the UAE is a key player in unlocking this full potential, and has launched and implemented many initiatives that address gender inequality, who said on the occasion, "The UAE is characterised by its initiatives and visions to assist women in accomplishing their goals. Backed by the UAE's leadership, filling the economic gender gap in the state is a goal that will not take long to reach."

"Women in the UAE rank highly in the sciences, and constitute 66 percent of state employees. In terms of education, women and girls account for 70 percent of school and university populations in the country," Al Suwaidi added.

Key measures to ensuring women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work must include bridging the gender pay gap which, according to UN Women, stands at 24 percent globally, as well as addressing the gender gaps in leadership, entrepreneurship and access to social protection, thus ensuring gender-inclusive economic policies for job creation, poverty reduction and sustainable, inclusive growth.

Commenting on the measures adopted by the UAE, Noura Al Suwaidi said, "Under the wise guidance of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, and H.H. Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council and President of Dubai Women Establishment, the UAE has achieved many goals towards narrowing the gender gap across various fields.

"The appointment of Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi as President and Speaker of the UAE Federal National Council, the region’s first female leader of a national assembly, is a testament to engaging women in political and decision-making positions, opening up an array of fields for women within the UAE in which to fully participate. Another example of women's engagement within UAE society is the number of businesswomen in the country, exceeding 23,000, who head funds estimated at AED50 billion."

In terms of political, economic and cultural empowerment of women, the UAE continues to take great strides. The formation of the UAE Gender Balance Council in 2015, under the auspices of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, increases the role of women in leadership positions and strengthens institutional capacity. The Gender Balance Council seeks to address issues in the UNDP's Gender Inequality Index which demonstrates the UAE's commitment to narrowing the economic gender gap and promoting the role of women in the workplace, political sphere and society on a local and global scale.

The Director-General of the General Women's Union commended the support that Emirati women continue to receive under the guidance of the UAE leadership, adding that promoting women's rights and implementing strategies in the private and public sector will aid in achieving SDG targets and the UAE vision for gender equality.

WAM/NOS/Moran

[Caption: Students at New York University Abu Dhabi campus]