Seize the opportunity: Shamsa Saleh

06 Mar 2019

DWE and UAE Gender Balance Council are creating an environment for women to pursue building their careers in business world

UAE residents have every reason to celebrate on this International Women's Day 2016 as the country is still reeling under the bold decision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to boost women participation in UAE Cabinet and which is in line with the global campaign on gender balance or narrowing disparity.

"This International Women's Day is a particularly special one for the UAE. This year, we've already seen female representation in the UAE Cabinet increase dramatically, with women now representing 27.5 per cent of the country's ministerial positions," Shamsa Saleh, chief executive of Dubai Women Establishment, told Khaleej Times.

The UAE has significant growth ambitions including its strategy to build a culture of innovation and an increasingly diverse cabinet, which will be extremely beneficial to the nation. The country is committed to encouraging gender balance across all sectors and Dubai Women Establishment is already actively involved in encouraging Emirati women to the workforce and to fulfil their potential and participate in all sectors and fields, including leadership and managerial positions - to foster women's participation in both the public and private sector.

"A greater representation of women in the UAE cabinet demonstrates the strength of our government in encouraging gender balance and diversity in the workplace and promoting a greater role for women in society, reflecting nation's commitment to the their happiness of all its people," said Saleh.

Women participations

The country recently concluded the Mena region's first ever Global Women's Forum Dubai, which brought together over 100 speakers - both male and female, from the private and public sectors around the world, showcasing the achievements of Arab women on an international platform and driving the global conversation about enhancing women's participation in the business world forward, with the development of concrete action plans and breakthrough ideas.

Supporting the theme of this year's International Women's Day, 'Pledge for Parity', participants at the Global Women's Forum Dubai were also involved in the "Step Up For Girls' Education" campaign which was launched by the Al Manal Humanitarian Initiative ahead of the forum, in support of Dubai Cares - part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives - particularly the organisation's girls' education programmes in developing countries. Participants downloaded the Global Women's Forum Dubai App and registered a total of 3.7 million steps throughout the two-day event which will facilitate access to education for over 1,000 underprivileged girls around the world and provide a significant contribution to global efforts to improve gender disparity.

"The opportunities are out there to contribute and actively participate in the UAE's socio-economic development; women simply need to seize those opportunities and never look back," added Saleh.

About the feedback of global forum, she said the response from people who wanted to attend and be part of Global Women's Forum Dubai was tremendous, with the number of attendees even "surpassing our expectations".

"Global Women's Forum Dubai was attended by 3,000 participants from over 70 countries during the two days, with 100 speakers representing all sectors, including business, government, academia, media, as well as art, culture and science," said Saleh.

The country has witnessed a wave of encouragement not only within the nation but even globally. People from all over the globe came together in the UAE with one goal to enhance women's participation throughout the world.

"We exchanged ideas, experiences and insights, but much more than that, we explored tangible solutions and action plans that we can all take away with us and use to build a better future," Saleh said.

This year, The International Women Day 2016 campaign is under the theme 'Pledge for parity and facilitating access to education for women' is obviously a key concern in many parts of the world, which is linked to other issues such as poverty and cultural boundaries.

"In the UAE, women have always enjoyed equal rights to men, which is part of our constitution. Emirati women represent 70 per cent of all university graduates across the UAE and 65 per cent of tertiary graduates are women, so we have an immense reserve of women who are qualified and ready to join the workforce.

"I think government bodies such as Dubai Women Establishment and the UAE Gender Balance Council are playing a big role in creating an environment where women have the opportunities and support they need to pursue building their careers in the business world," said Saleh.

"With the support of the UAE's wise leadership, women are continuously rising to more senior positions across various sectors, including politics, as we've seen with the recent UAE Cabinet reshuffle. As women become more able to strike the balance between work and family life, through various initiatives and new opportunities arising in the UAE, they are choosing to participate and pursue their aspirations," she added.

Global Women's Forum Dubai highlighted the incredible stories of female scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and business leaders from across the UAE. Sarah Amiri, Emirates Mars Mission Science Team Leader at the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), and chairperson of the UAE Council of Scientists, who attended Global Women's Forum Dubai, is a prime example inspiring other women to follow in her footsteps.

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