KHALEEJ TIMES, Saturday, Nov 9, 2019 | Rabi Al Awwal 12, 1441
Women empowerment to create stable, prosperous future
Empowering women and harnessing their full potential will lead to a more stable
and prosperous future, experts said ahead of the Women's Economic Empowerment
Global Summit (WEEGS 2019).
Held under the patronage of Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His
Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Nama Women Advancement
Establishment (Nama), the event will be held under the theme, 'Drivers of
Change', which is inspired by the challenges that women face in the global
workplace. Organised by Nama, in collaboration with UN Women, the event will
take place on December 10-11, 2019 at the Al Jawaher Reception and Convention
Centre in Sharjah. Over 1,000 experts and decision makers will discuss current
strategies, potential opportunities, and case studies that enhance equitable
opportunities for women in all sectors.
Designed to boost career prospects and shape a truly inclusive work ecosystem
for women, WEEGS 2019 will be based on four key pillars including:
gender-responsive procurement, women's participation in value chains, women's
empowerment principles, and women's access to finance.
A report published by the World Bank indicates women currently make up only 21
per cent of the labour force and only contribute 18 per cent to Middle east and
North Africa (Mena) region's overall GDP. Had the gender gap in labour force
participation been narrowed over the past decade, the GDP growth rate in the
Mena region could have doubled or increased by about $1 trillion in cumulative
output. The flagship report by UN Women titled 'Turning Promises into Action:
Gender Equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development' revealed that,
at current trends, equal pay will not be achieved before the year 2086 without
targeted action. Another study by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor pointed
out that on average, women start businesses at less than 60 per cent the rate of
men. In addition, there are no economies where women start at equal or higher
rates than men.
"We look upon women in the region and the world as a united, coherent
community," said Reem BinKaram, director of Nama. "This vision is enshrined in
our strategic partnership with UN Women and civil society organisations in many
countries. It aligns with our belief that women are an indispensable human
resource for the development of every nation. By helping create a better
entrepreneurial ecosystem for women and enhancing their skills, we can really
boost their role in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
She added that the summit's theme is ultimately a re-assertion of Nama's faith
in the ambitions of the UN Women's indicators, which tell a compelling story:
"If women played an identical role in labour markets to that of men, as much as
$28 trillion, or 26 per cent, could be added to the global annual GDP by 2025,
which is the GDP of the USA and China combined."
Women in the UAE occupy more than 66 per cent of the jobs in the public sector,
make up 25 per cent of the national labour force, and 30 per cent of those in
the SME sector. Enrollment of Emirati women in higher education after graduation
from secondary school exceeds 77 per cent. Female entrepreneurs account for 10
per cent of the UAE's private sector, with over 23,000 women entrepreneurs
generating approximately $13 billion in revenue. Also, women's contribution to
the UAE labour market, stands at 46.6 per cent. As part of its inaugural
edition, the summit called on all sectors of society including government
departments, academic institutions, non-governmental and international
organisations, SMEs, large corporations and individuals to adopt two principles
inspired by the Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs) as part of the 'WEEGS
Pledge', to promote gender equity and empower women in the workplace,
marketplace and community.