The Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to India Dr Ahmed Albanna addressed a virtual interaction recently on Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment with a group of women facilitated by Sanchita Mitra, National Coordinator for SEWA Bharat.
The Ambassador said that the UAE is one of the most progressive societies when it comes to gender equality and women economic empowerment. UAE constitution guarantees equal rights to all of its citizens and Emirati women.
Dr ALbanna stressed that the UAE’s achievement is perhaps best typified in the evolution and growing prominence of Emirati women as contributors and partners in the remarkable nation building process.
Emphasising some recent initiatives, Dr ALbanna said that over the last few years, the government of the UAE has made gender equality and women’s economic empowerment a top policy priority. In 2019, under the leadership of the UAE’s Gender Balance Council, the country introduced historic reforms to enhance women’s economic empowerment. In 2020, substantive changes were made to UAE laws which updated and introduced new progressive laws on inheritance, divorce, and crimes against women. Vision 2021 reflects the commitment of UAE leadership to women’s empowerment.
Dr Albanna said , this year, the UA became the first country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to introduce paid parental leave for employees in the private sector. This historic reform was part of a broad reform package enacted by the UAE to support women’s labour force participation. The female labour force participation rate in the UAE — 57.5% in 2020 — is one of the highest in MENA region.
While emphasizing that the education is key to the economic empowerment of women he mentioned the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Report, where the UAE is one of the region’s best performing countries having closed the overall gender gap by 66%. Over 77% of Emirati women enrol in higher education after secondary school and make up 70% of all university graduates in the UAE. In 2020, the UAE ranked 18 out of 189 countries in women’s empowerment according to the 2020 Human Development Report commissioned by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
He said that today, Emirati women in the UAE hold two – thirds of public sector jobs. Over a quarter of the cabinet level minister roles in the UAE are held by women and Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, was the world’s youngest minister, age 26, appointed in 2016.
In terms of women entrepreneurship, in 2020, the UAE had the highest number of women on Forbes 100 Most powerful Arab Businesswomen with 23 Emirati women on the list. Today 15% of board level positions nationwide are occupied by Emirati women. The UAE’s aviation industry employs the more female pilots, captains, and aircraft engineers than any other country in the MENA region. Reem Al Hashimi, who serves as the Managing Director for the Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau, also exemplifies the power of Emirati women.
The Ambassador said that the ongoing Expo 2020 Dubai is trying to transform the perception of Emirati women. It is the first time that a world expo is almost entirely helmed by women leaders — about 60 percent of the core team comprises women leaders. The inclusivity at the expo is a part of a larger gender inclusivity effort in the UAE.
He said that the UAE also leads measures of female empowerment within its diplomatic service. As of October 2019, 49.5% of employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation were women, including high-profile female ambassadors in major embassies such as the UN Mission in New York, France, Germany, Finland, among others. Even here at the UAE Embassy in New Delhi, females comprise of 50 % of the Diplomatic Corps.
He added that the UAE was ranked first in terms of community safety, with 98.5 per cent of women saying they felt safe walking alone in their neighbourhoods at night. Singapore came second at 96.9 per cent.
Ambassador said that, to date the UAE has dedicated US $322 million for humanitarian initiatives and interventions focused on women and girls. The UAE has donated over $26 million to the core budget of UN-Women since its founding in 2010 to support its operations and efforts to promote gender equality and women's empowerment.
The Ambassador said, this is his belief that there are endless opportunities for mutual collaboration in the realm of women’s economic empowerment between the UAE and India.