UAE on a solid path towards achieving gender balance

DUBAI, 11th November, 2016 (WAM) — The UAE has made significant progress in promoting gender balance, especially in key decision-making positions, and has enhanced female participation in the public sector, a senior UAE official said at the 9th Gender Summit, held in the European Union’s, EU, headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

The event shed light on the most significant policies and initiatives that support gender quality, particularly in the fields of technology, science, research and innovation, in accordance to global best practices.

“The achievements of the UAE in this respect have led us to become a pioneer in promoting gender equality at a global level,” said Abdullah Lootah, Director-General of Federal Competitiveness Council and Member of the UAE Gender Balance Council.

“The UAE Gender Balance Council is committed to its goal of promoting further gender balance and equality between men and women, and we are prioritising our efforts to achieve this balance in all sectors. We are working to ensure that there is a supportive and incentivising environment for women in workplace, and we will appoint women in different roles and across sectors in the country,” Lootah said in a statement.

He headed the Council’s delegation to the summit while Shamsa Saleh, CEO of Dubai Women Establishment, DWE, and CEO and Secretary-General of the UAE Gender Balance Council, was another noted member.

“Our participation in the Gender Summit in Brussels is essential in supporting our efforts and ensuring that we are moving in the right direction with regards to completely closing the gender gap. It also provides us with an opportunity to learn from the successes that other countries have had in this area,” Lootah added.

He urged participants to apply successful concepts and practices adopted by some countries to increase female representation in all sectors.

Commenting on the Council’s participation in the summit, Saleh said that the UAE is a leading country in this respect and has implemented laws that guarantee equality for all.

“We are working in a true partnership with the global community to enhance the position of women in all avenues and sectors. We are working on different initiatives to close the gender gap and achieve gender balance in all fields and in all levels and positions, as we believe that women are crucial to the continued growth and sustainable prosperity of our country, and to leading our nation to a better future,” she said.

“It is important to have a platform that allows different parties to share success stories in supporting women, to enable the creation of frameworks that help them fulfil their role as effective members of the society. To achieve this goal, it is essential for us to promote and enhance awareness of the many significant achievements that women have made, in addition to adopting policies and initiatives that promote confidence among women,” she added.

The opening session of the summit addressed how policies and legislations could promote gender balance in the fields of science and technology. Speakers came up with their suggestions regarding the ways to increase female participation in areas such as research, science, technology and innovation, and how to close the gender gap in those areas. Case studies from Canada, the Scandinavian countries, South Africa and the EU were also presented during this session.

The second session focussed on gender gap in the health sector and how women should be able to leverage psychological health services as these medical conditions affect a large number of women all over the world. Participants discussed the importance of healthcare in the global context and highlighted the clear unbalance between genders when it comes to leveraging healthcare services. A number of case studies confirmed the situation and stated that such negligence leads to spreading of certain diseases which afflict women. Discussions were also held on the importance of early prevention of disease.

The summit ended after inking a number of critical resolutions, such as the importance of unifying health-related policies and providing healthcare for all. Other resolutions focussed on inclusion of women in policy creation, preparation of research and studies, and increasing their number in decision-making roles and technology sector, which will help achieve the ultimate goal of closing the gender gap.

On the sidelines, UAE delegates held several meetings with gender experts and specialists.

The Council met Professor Martina Schraudner, Head of Fraunhofer Center for Responsible Research and Innovation in Berlin. Both parties showcased their plans and discussed co-operation opportunities, following Berlin’s success in raising women’s participation in the fields of research and innovation, science and technology. Lootah also presented the UAE’s achievements in closing the gender gap in all sectors and spoke about future plans to support the youth and promote innovation.

The UAE delegation held another meeting with the Norwegian team to discuss the latter’s boardroom quota system, which has seen Norway raise women’s participation in the boardroom from 6 per cent to 40 per cent.

Other meetings were held to discuss the significance of achieving gender balance in the science, technology, innovation and research fields, and the best policies and initiatives required to achieve it.

The UAE Gender Balance Council was established to reduce the gender gap across all government sectors in the country, enhance the UAE’s ranking in global competitiveness reports on gender equality and promote gender balance in decision-making positions. The Council also aims to launch innovative initiatives and projects that will contribute to greater gender balance, which will position the UAE as a role model for countries looking to achieve these goals.