Emirati Women Perspectives on Work and Political Participation 2012

15 Sep 2013

Dubai: In an ongoing effort to shed light on issues and conditions pertaining to professional UAE working women, Dubai Women Establishment today announced the launch of a new online Poll Analysis Report on 'Emirati Women Perspectives on Work and Political Participation'. The report is a conclusion of women's views on the matters of flexible work options, what draws women to joining the workforce,

In 2012, the research team in DWE conducted a number of polls on the subject of women's participation in the economy across UAE. The polls were conducted through social media websites in order to get a wider range of opinions. On each topic additional information is added to give the reader an informative background of women's progress and current situation in the local economy.

On the occasion, Shamsa Saleh, CEO of Dubai Women Establishment said, "This Poll Analysis Report is a representation of one of DWE's main objectives, which is to help identify and report on the conditions and needs of professional women working in the UAE through research, and qualitative and statistical studies. Our aim is to provide those organisations and departments interested in women's issues, with additional information and guidance on the subject, further enabling them to contribute programs and development opportunities for working women in our country. This will not only advantage the individual but also open doors to UAE women to participate actively in economic and social development of the state, in line with the vision and strategy of the organization."

She added, "Dubai Women Establishment is keen continuously to support all projects and initiatives that seek to empower women to play a greater role - locally and globally - in the development and progress of their nation and community. We are committed to enhancing the capabilities of UAE women and to highlight the active role they already play in their society and to encourage and support the participation of women in all social and professional fields. The Poll Analysis Report represents a key step in this framework, which constitutes an important pillar to understand the status of women in the UAE and work to boost the strengths and avoid the negative aspects."

And on the issue of providing the choice of flexible working hours to working women, the report addressed that this was one of the main reasons that was holding back women from joining the labour force; thereby hindering their ability to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life. This opinion was confirmed by 62.5 % of the participants in the poll. While many institutions have successfully dealt with the issue of work-life balance through the provision of childcare facilities, the application of work schedules are flexible, and the provision of an extended maternity leave; women are still hindered by some difficulties. For instance over 15.6 % of respondents believed that women tend to switch jobs or gradually stop work due to organizational and individual mindsets.

The status of Emirati women in the workforce has witnessed a significant increase and currently their participation reached a 66% of the government's workforce, 30% being in senior positions, 15% in technical jobs (medicine, nursing and pharmacy) and the few in armed forces, customs and police, additionally they now account for 37.5% of the banking sector.

However, while their advancement to managerial positions is fairly acceptable in accordance with the rate of their economic participation in the government sector, Emirati women's presence in the private sector remains low in both executive and managerial positions. According to recent statistics from the Ministry of Labor, Emirati women only constitute about 5% of the private sector.

Also highlighted in the report are the obstacles faced by women to reach the rank of leadership. It is noted by 30.4% of all respondents that government support for women has tremendously helped remove obstacles for Emirati women reach senior positions including positions such as Minister or Ambassador. 

Similarly, a study conducted by the DWE research team focused on highlighting women's view on barriers to top levels of management. 30.4% of our poll respondents believe that the support given to women by the government removed all barriers and Emirati women are now present as ministers, ambassadors and in high positions across different fields. On the contrary, more than 50% see that barriers still exist for women's advancement to decision making positions. According to the results, organizational mind-sets are a primary reason to why women have limited opportunity to reach higher management. Managers usually, whether male or female, continue to take viable female candidates out of the running, often on the assumption that women cannot handle certain jobs and also discharge family obligations.

On the other hand, the UAE's achievements in the empowerment of women are such that it ranked 1st among Arab Nations in 2010, 2011 & 2012 Gender Gap Report by World Economic Forum and thirty-eighth among 187 countries in the UNDP's Gender-related Development Index for 2011. Great efforts have been taken by UAE's government to promote women's participation in the economy and still more is being done to make them reach decision making positions.

The study also explores the many policies that have been introduced by governments and organizations to help sustain women's role in the economy. The flexible work arrangements policy, which offers different types of arrangements from time related options such as job sharing, part-time, compressed hours, flexi-times and staggered hours, to location arrangements such as working from home or telecommuting have been proven to help promote a healthy work-life balance in an organization and retain skilled staff.

From a productivity perspective, poll respondents were asked whether they through flexible work strategies made employees appreciative of their work environment or would it make them neglectful of their job tasks. 91% believed that applying such strategies in a workplace would definitely increase employees' scale of productivity. The study conveyed that managers and employers who already provide flexibility for their employees notice a 30% productivity increase. Additionally, employees stated that having flexible options gives them a sense of loyalty to their workplace, gives them a chance to be more creative in their job tasks and how they invest their work hours and also gives them change in the daily routine. On the other hand, the rest had more neutral opinions, stating that it mostly would depend on the employee's level of commitment and scale of productivity from the start.

At the level of participation of women in the political sphere, the report pointed out the great support given to women in the UAE by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan who wanted women to have a vital role in building the country's economy. It was Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, the wife of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan who played a major role in establishing the UAE Women's Federation (currently known as the General Women's Union), which aimed at creating opportunities for women so that they may achieve their fullest potential. As women in the UAE began to play a larger role and enjoy wider opportunities and access to decision-making positions, the political progress achieved by such an important step was one of the greatest factors for the emergence of women to the forefront in the field of sustainable development of the country.

In December 2006, the first ever elections for the Federal National Council (FNC) awarded women with the right to vote and run as candidates. In this round of elections one woman was elected and 8 others were appointed by the rulers of the various emirates, bringing the total number of women in the FNC to 9, constituting 22.2% of female representation in the council.

The new online Poll Analysis Report on 'Emirati Women Perspectives on Work and Political Participation' is line with the vision and objectives of the Dubai Women Establishment to develop the capabilities of UAE women and to highlight the effective role they can play in society by encouraging and supporting their participation in professional and social spheres. DWE's ever growing bank of research, statistics and data is a testimony to the Establishment's ongoing efforts to identify the professional conditions of UAE women in order to launch initiatives aimed at enhancing opportunities for their development. DWE has also raised policy recommendations and initiatives for women to the Government of Dubai and proposed solutions to support the empowerment of women to play a greater role on the local and global scale.

The Poll Report is available on the website: www.dwe.gov.ae

Dubai Women Establishment:
Dubai Women Establishment is a statutory body of the Government of Dubai as per its founding decree, which encourages and facilitates the active participation of Emirati women in the economy and society; capitalizing on its own knowledge to advise legislators on policies that are more conducive to Emirati women in the workplace and their role in the family; influencing networks and society to create a positive perception of participating Emirati women, and delivering services in Dubai which address the multi-faceted needs of women, to pursue an active lifestyle and sustained economic participation.

For further information, please contact:
Samar Al Marri 
Tel: +971 4 4069010 
Email: [email protected]

© Press Release 2013

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