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Women in Focus: What the Arab World can learn from the UAE’s female empowerment policies

United Arab Emirates: Monday, October 01 - 2012 @ 13:50

Held under the endorsement of HH Maitha’ Salem Al Shamsi, Minister of State, UAE, the forum is taking place on November 21st and 22nd 2012, at The Westin Hotel, Dubai.

Developing female leaders at the workplace is not just a feel good CSR initiative; it is a downright requirement for any company who wants to become a serious contender. While the Arab World may not have the best track record for female empowerment, the UAE stands as the exception to the rule. Research shows UAE women have equal access to education and they outperform men in academic settings.

What is more, studies have found Emirati women start their own businesses for much more than monetary gain. According to a survey conducted last month by Abu Dhabi University (ADU), in collaboration with Qatar University, UAE female entrepreneurs do not enter the workforce out of necessity, rather for a sense for accomplishment inspired by a need to help others and contribute to the local economy. Furthermore, as Raja Easa Al Gurg, President of the Dubai Business Women Council within the Dubai Chambers notes, “entrepreneurship provides the desired social flexibility between a woman’s traditional role in the home and widely emerging career aspirations.”

As Mrs Gurg goes on to say, “Women in the MENA region, especially in the UAE, have been making great strides in the political, social, economic and business spheres over the last few decades, and the growing emphasis on Emiratisation has significantly contributed to attracting more women into entrepreneurship and becoming part of the workforce. Currently the UAE scores the highest in the GCC in terms of participation of women in the workforce; with a majority employed and contributing to the economy. These are certainly promising signs that the UAE is empowering its women to pursue dreams and showcase their true potential.”

Such findings are encouraging; the need for leadership at the workplace is a determinant factor for the success of the economy. Since the establishment of the Emiratisation programme, more and more public, quasi-government and private establishments have been recruiting and nurturing Emirati women.

By adapting HR practices and training to accommodate the needs of young professional Emirati talents, it is not just the young women which stand to benefit but so too the organisation in the long run. According to Dr Sven-Olaf Vathje of the Boston Consulting Group, who recently conducted a study on gender diversity in the Middle East: “Companies that successfully advance qualified women into leadership positions benefit from an overall increased attractiveness as an employer. Also, such companies typically outperform their industry peers — diversity pays off commercially.”

With the UAE’s plans to enlist over 20,000 unemployed young Emiratis into the workforce over the next five years – part of the Ministry of Presidential Affairs’ ‘Abshir’ programme – there has never been a more appropriate time to understand how to best integrate women into the workplace and how to develop a female employee to become the leader the UAE needs her to be.

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Monday, October 1- 2012 @ 13:50 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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