By Bernd Debusmann Jr
In the UAE, 30% of public sector posts are held by women
Women in the UAE and elsewhere around the world require adequate ‘work-life’ balance to be able to take on prominent positions in workplaces and in government, according to Hessa Buhamaid, the UAE’s Minister of Community Development.
Speaking at the Global Women’s Forum Dubai 2020, Buhamaid said “the power of empowering women is unbelievable" and said that the UAE’s government “believes in empowering women with work-life balance”.
“This is what women want around the world, and need. If you ask for women to go into higher and higher positions in the workforce, [they] will definitely end up requiring some sort of adjustment,” she said.
“When we talk about those adjustments - reviewing the laws and regulations - we’re talking about a sustainable family. We believe in having sustainable families that will support the full [social and economic] ecosystem,” Buhamaid added.
Plenary panel at the #GWFD2020 discusses gender balance, hosting #UAE Minister of Community Development @HessaBuhumaid, @UNDP’s @pedrotconceicao and the World Bank's Senior Director for Gender @CarenGrown. pic.twitter.com/78Bg0Vxqsa— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) February 16, 2020
In her remarks, Buhamaid said that in the UAE, 30 percent of public sector positions are held by women, of which 15 percent are in technical and academic roles.
Also speaking at the forum was Pedro Conceicao, the director of the Human Development Report Office of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), who said that “the transition of women to the economy is really the most consequential challenge that we face at present”.
“Part of that has to do with legal barriers. There has been a lot of progress here [in the UAE],” he said. “I’d also emphasise the aspect of social norms.”
Conceicao said that UNDP statistics show that 50 percent of women around the world believe that being at work ‘hurts’ their children, while 50 percent see employment as a pathway towards becoming independent.
“You see the contradictions that women face that go beyond laws, beyond regulations, that are imposed on us by these social norms that need to be addressed,” he said.
Additionally, while Conceicao said that around the world - particularly in places such as the UAE - women are increasingly well represented in the executive branches of government and parliamentary bodies, they remain conspicuously absent from the highest levels of government.
“If you look at the very top, heads of state and government, women are still very much under-represented,” he said. “It’s important that men, in a way, yield power to women.”