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Wed 2 May 2012 02:58 PM

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Female quotas in workplace a bad idea - Sheikha Lubna

Mandatory quotas for employing Emirati women will not encourage them into workplace, says UAE foreign trade minister

Female quotas in workplace a bad idea - Sheikha Lubna
Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi.

Introducing compulsory female quotas in UAE workplaces will not encourage more Emirati women to take up positions in the private sector, the Gulf state's minister of foreign trade said. 

Regional governments must work together with the private sector to boost female participation in the workforce and not hire women simply to meet quotas, Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi said.

“While quotas are set by law in some countries, I believe this should not be the go-to solution for the UAE and the region in general. As a woman I would prefer to attain my position by real merit rather than always wonder if I was appointed to the board just to hit a quota or through affirmative action,” she said in an interview with market research firm Insight Discovery.

“Collaboration will need to start from the top. If the government shows a genuine concern for empowering women, then the concerned agencies, the private sector and the general public will follow suit,” she added.

Norway became the first country in 2003 to introduce female quotas under a so-called “golden skirt” policy that aims to have 40 percent of directors of listed companies to be women. Iceland followed with a series of targets and quotas in a bid for at least 40 percent of directors to be women by 2013.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron in February said he would not rule out introducing quotas as a way of getting more women into top executive jobs.

Gulf countries continue to lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to gender equality.

In a global ranking by the World Economic Forum, no Middle East country ranked in the top 100 of the 135 nations covered.

Across the Gulf, the UAE was the highest-ranked country at 103, followed by Kuwait (105), Bahrain (110), Qatar (111), Oman (127) and Saudi Arabia (131).

While incentive schemes could serve to push for women into the workplace, employers could focus on a gender-neutral environment, said Sheikha Lubna.

“Perhaps some incentive schemes can be put in place, but again I would prefer women motivate themselves. The focus should be on creating a fair environment for them in terms of mechanisms such as training and consideration for roles on the corporate board,” she said.

Sheikha Lubna was the first ever female to be appointed as a government minister in the UAE.

Trish 7 years ago

Well said...!

Shafiqur Rahman 7 years ago

Some how I am agreed with Sheikha Lubna, Arabian ladies are VIP type, they can't work in the work place like factory worker but officially, in the market they can work, also in garments factory appropriate for poor women, if they look to Bangladesh, India that will be answer for it. Other hard work no need to push them because they are riches country nation.
I think its clear.


Dear all,

Correctly mentioned by the Minister Her Majesty Sheikha Lubna. U.A.E Girls and U.A.E. Women are quite smart to involve themselves in Service as well as Business Industry.

They are by merit by education and by nature are capable of handling all kind of service position and Management positions like Iraqi girls who are quite smart and social.

This type of encouragement will definitely boost the youngsters in U.A.E. to handle the Business and Service the Girls as well as Women of U.A.E..

Billy 7 years ago

The answer lies with Emirati women themselves. If they make themselves competitive in today's employment market they will easily find themselves a job in the private sector. They need to shake off all the old baggage about special working conditions, timings, etc and simply get on with the job. then they will quickly gain the recognition, respect and self fulfillment they are looking for.

Cosmic 7 years ago

They, in their own country, should not have to compete with others who do not conform to the same set of cultural and religious expectations.

They, in their own country, should not have to 'shake off' any sort of 'baggage' (which, by the way, is VERY offensive) in order to compete with expatriates who are only here for the purpose of work.

They, in their own country, should not look for recognition, respect and self-fulfillment from those who are only in their country for financial reasons.

Ultimately, I disagree with female quotas, and i whole-heartedly disagree with any event that screams "women empowerment" as if this gender is crippled somehow. IF she can do the job, she'll get the job; but no expat should 'tell' Emirati women to shake off their baggage and compete with other expats. You're here for 3-5 years, we're here (and have been here) for ever.

Nader B. 7 years ago

The answer lies with themselves and with their employers. Discrimination exists everywhere in the world for female employees, but in this region, it is not just the workplace that disciminates against them and their potential to succeed. Households are a huge factor in holding women back, be it their husbands, fathers, or brothers; this region needs to educate their people and households before approaching employers.

harmony 7 years ago

My company employed 2 Emirati women. They were given very nice company accommodation, and there was a bus to take people to their place of work. The drop off was on one side of the Beach Road in Dubai, where there was the biggest office/most people working, with a small office in a villa opposite. This was right by a pedestrian crossing/traffic lights. The bus had further drop offs further up the road and so could not do a u-turn just to drop them off. The women resigned because they refused to cross the road.
The attitude needs to change - a quota just reinforces how 'special' they think they are.

SAM 7 years ago

There is no shame in work, as long as it is decent and honest work. If someone needs to make a living, starting at an entry level will provide the individual with experience and shape the person's work ethics. In most cases, starting at the VIP level, being Arab or not, male or female, will not yield positive results. I strongly support Sheikha Lubna's stance, courage and wisdom by not being a follower of a trend, but a leader.

Ike 7 years ago

Agree 100% with HE Sheikha Lubna.
I dont think that there should be quotas even for males. If a person is serious about working there should not be any preferential system. Preferential system will only pamper & spoil the worker and cause resentment amongst other co-workers. Seriousness will only come once all special benefits are taken away and income from sponsoring businesses taken away.

David 7 years ago

Going by Cosmic's logic, they had every right to demand they be dropped where they wanted, and your company is in the wrong