Manal bint Mohammed: Due to the vision of the nation’s wise leadership and studies such as the ‘Power of Choice’, Emirati women have succeeded across all sectors

17 Sep 2018

Under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, President of Dubai Women Establishment (DWE) and wife of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Dubai Women Establishment has launched the ‘Power of Choice’ report on 17 September 2018 at the Four Seasons Hotel and Resort in Jumeirah.  Her Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum stated that such reports are a continuation of the numerous studies and programs focusing on women’s social and economic participation that have been introduced by the Establishment over the past 12 years. Her Highness further emphasized that the ‘Power of Choice’ is in line with the wise leadership’s directives and governmental efforts aiming to enhance women’s role in the nation’s development process.

The ‘Power of Choice’ is among the most prominent studies of Dubai Women Establishment’s strategic plan 2017-2021. The study focuses on the non-working segment of Emirati women, providing insights into the factors and challenges that hinder them from joining the workforce. The report is a culmination of thorough research, surveys, and personal interviews conducted by Dubai Women Establishment with working and non-working Emirati men and women from across the nation. The aim of the report is to establish conclusions to better understand the ambitions and interests of non-working Emirati women, identify the challenges they face, and recommend appropriate policies that will increase their contribution in the national development process and advance their success across all sectors.

Discussion Panel

During the launch event, a discussion panel based on the report’s findings took place to explore existing policy gaps, legislations and incentives for non-working women. Panellists included HE Nasser bin Thani Al Hamli, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation; HE Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development; HE Mona Ghanem Al Marri, Vice President of the UAE Gender Balance Council; and HE Dr. Abdulrahman Al Awar, Director General of the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources. The session was moderated by Naoufer Ramoul, anchor at Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI), and was attended by notable governmental officials and female Emirati leaders.

Reflecting on the importance of encouraging the participation of Emirati women, HE Nasser bin Thani Al Hamli stated that initiatives that support the self-employment of Emirati women are in line with the global shift to freelance work. HE added: “We have introduced initiatives and platforms to link national corporations with individuals who choose to freelance, providing incentives that encourage establishments within the UAE to seek the services of self-employed Emiratis. Such initiatives greatly contribute to enhancing the participation of women in the UAE; 62% of the 6,000 jobs that were offered by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation in 2017 were filled by Emirati women.” HE expressed his optimism in the increased participation of Emirati women in the private sector, as it increasingly offers job opportunities that require higher levels of education, and the enrollment of women in the UAE in higher education is ranked the highest globally.

Commenting on the importance of working Emirati women in the community, HE Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid said: “We are keen on encouraging women to join the workforce and to participate in the social and economic progression of the UAE. Employment is a value that is instilled within our culture and our history, and Emirati women who join the workforce are a source of pride for their families and nation. The working Emirati woman is a role model for her peers, as she effectively contributes to the development of our communities and country.”

HE Mona Ghanem Al Marri highlighted that women’s participation in the UAE’s development process is a national priority. HE stated: “Supportive policies and legislations, in addition to numerous governmental initiatives and awareness programs, have contributed to the pioneering success Emirati women have achieved. Working is a national duty for both men and women; it is our duty to encourage future generations in the UAE to follow the same path.” HE cited policies such as the extension of maternity leaves, providing child care centres within governmental institutions, nursing hour policies, the most recent approval of the law on equal wages and salaries between men and women, and flexible working hours as among the most prominent factors that increase employees’ happiness and satisfaction.

HE Dr. Abdulrahman Al Awar said: “There is no difference between men and women in the availability of employment opportunities on a federal level; employees are solely appointed based on merit. The Federal Authority for Human Resources and Emiratisation works towards providing ideal work environments that encourage the participation of women across all sectors. Introducing and implementing policies that support women in finding a balance between their personal and professional lives is among our top priorities.”

Deciding Women

The ‘Power of Choice’ coins the term Deciding Women, referring to women who have either not been previously employed or wish to re-enter the workforce.  80% of Emirati women sampled in this study expressed their interest in joining the workforce, but find it challenging to do so in the face of employment guidelines that do not accommodate their social and personal circumstances.

Among the conclusions drawn from the study is that with the advancement of social and cultural conditions regarding women’s roles, Emirati women are now able to hold important positions, shape their future, and choose how to increase their social and economic contributions in whichever way they deem most suitable.

Interest in employment

The study highlights that more than 80% of Deciding Women have children. Despite their prioritization of their roles as wives and mothers, they are interested in developing their careers and forging their own professional paths as well. Flexible employment guidelines, including part-time employment and flexible working hours, are considered necessary in order to balance their personal and professional lives.

Although none of the participating women in the ‘Power of Choice’ work outside their homes, their perspectives regarding employment vary. 20% of the participants expressed their lack of interest in joining the workforce, but indicated that they are susceptible to changing their views under specific circumstances. The remaining 80% emphasized their interest in joining the workforce.

Among the most notable factors that influence Deciding Women to leave the workforce are related to inflexible working hours, mundane daily routines, the difficulty of the job, or marriage and children.  The most frequently cited motivations behind Deciding Women’s interest in entering the workforce are financial independence, personal growth and development, and utilizing their education.

Changing perspectives

An introductory speech given by HE Shamsa Saleh, CEO of Dubai Women Establishment, marked the beginning of the event, during which she welcomed the attendees and highlighted that the support of the nation’s wise leadership for Emirati women has expanded their role in society and promoted their success across the region, making the UAE a global role model for women’s empowerment.

HE Shamsa Saleh said: “We hope that this study supports policy makers and legislators, as it provides valuable insights into the challenges that non-working Emirati women face. The ‘Power of Choice’ aims to inspire a framework for solutions and initiatives that will work towards increasing the opportunities for women in both the private and public sectors, as well as their participation in UAE’s prosperity, which will support national goals and enhance the UAE’s standing across global competitiveness indicators.” HE highlighted that the challenges that non-working women encounter can be overcome through the accommodating employment options offered by the nation and the labour market.

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