Mona Ghanem Al Marri.
Women have significantly more opportunities open to them in all fields than in previous years, according to the Vice President of the UAE Gender Council, Mona Al Marri.
Al Marri was speaking during a panel session with OECD secretary general Angel Gurria on Day 2 of the seventh World Government Summit being held in Dubai.
“Women account for $50 billion of businesses in the UAE. While there continue to be challenges, we should keep hope that fundamental changes are giving rise to even more opportunities,” she said.
Al Marri also referred to the direction by UAE’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed to have the Federal National Council, the country’s equivalent of a parliamentary body, count women as 15 percent of its numbers by the end of the year.
“This will affect not just participation, but the political and social scene in the UAE as well,” she said.
Gaps continue to persist as the UAE attempts to boost its rate of female participation in the workforce. “There are a majority of women in university and yet a minority in the job market,” said Gurria during the session.
However, he added, that “legislation is encouraging their inclusion and it is a positive.”
“It’s the same in other parts of the world. Even in Germany for instance, it had to be legislated that 30 percent of board members need to be female. It’s the same thing in countries from Norway to Mexico,” he said.
The UAE’s rapid growth in social inclusion rates make it a model for other countries, said Al Marri.
“Our gender participation model has grown considerably faster than the global inclusivity rates. And given that there are a number of countries in the region that we share culture and demography with, we definitely see it as a model that could be replicated in other countries in the region,” she added.
Women represent 24 percent of all parliamentarians worldwide, a notable increase since the 1990s.
By the end of the year Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed wants the Federal National Council to have 15 percent females in FNC by the end of the year.