Gender Equality, Women Empowerment and their role in Economic Development

Dr. Ahmed Al Banna, UAE Ambassador to India

  -Dr. Rahul Kumar, Senior Correspondent, the Asian Independent, UK-

(Samaj Weekly)- On 23.11.2021, during a virtual event, UAE Ambassador to India, Dr. Ahmed Al Banna addressed  a large gathering of under-graduate students of Maitreyi College, University of Delhi on the theme of “ Gender Equality, Women Empowerment and their role in Economic Department.” The virtual event was organised by Arthaneeti, Department of Economics.  Dr. Saroj Rani, Convener welcomed the Honorable Ambassador. Principal Prof. Haritma Chopra also addressed the students. Co-covener Ms. N Shradha delivered a vote of thanks. The event began with a traditional lighting of the lamp; a short video of the college was also shown to the audience.

Dr. Ahmed Al Banna, UAE Ambassador to India highlighted the in the initiatives taken in the UAE towards Gender Equality and Women’s economic empowerment. The UAE is one of the most progressive societies when it comes to gender equality and women economic empowerment. Our constitution guarantees equal rights to all of its citizens and Emirati women. The UAE’s achievement is perhaps best typified in the evolution and growing prominence of Emirati women as contributors and partners in the remarkable nation building process. Over the last few years, the government of the UAE has made gender equality and women’s economic empowerment a top policy priority. In 2019, under the leadership of the UAE’s Gender Balance Council, the country introduced historic reforms to enhance women’s economic empowerment.

The female labour force participation rate in the UAE — 57.5% in 2020 — is one of the highest in the MENA region. Education is key to the economic empowerment of women. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Report, the UAE is one of the region’s best performing countries having closed the overall gender gap by 66%. Over 77% of Emirati women enrol in higher education after secondary school and make up 70% of all university graduates in the UAE. 56% of UAE government university graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are women. The literacy rate of women in the UAE today is 95.8%. Today, Emirati women in the UAE hold two – thirds of public sector jobs.

 In terms of women entrepreneurship, in 2020, the UAE had the highest number of women on Forbes 100 Most powerful Arab Businesswomen with 23 Emirati women on the list.  Today 15% of board level positions nationwide are occupied by Emirati women. The UAE’s aviation industry employs more female pilots, captains, and aircraft engineers than any other country in the MENA region. The UAE also leads measures of female empowerment within its diplomatic service. As of October 2019, 49.5% of employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation were women. Even here at the Embassy in New Delhi, I am proud to say that females comprise 50 % of the Diplomatic Corps. Women’s safety is also one of our utmost priorities.

Women feel safer in the UAE than any other country, according to a major recent survey by Georgetown University. The Women, Peace and Security Index is in its third year and gives insight into the changing patterns in women’s empowerment across the globe. The UAE was ranked first in terms of community safety, with 98.5 percent of women saying they felt safe walking alone in their neighbourhoods at night. Singapore came second at 96.9 per cent. Over a quarter of the cabinet level minister roles in the UAE are held by women. HE Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, was the world’s youngest minister, age 26, appointed in 2016. To date the UAE has dedicated US $322 million for humanitarian initiatives and interventions focused on women and girls. The UAE has donated over $26 million to the core budget of UN-Women since its founding in 2010 to support its operations and efforts to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

It is my personal belief that there are endless opportunities for mutual collaboration in the realm of women economic empowerment between the UAE and India.