Creating An Equal World For A Balanced Tomorrow
With the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic at the top of the agenda for most global leaders, economic recovery strategies are being studied and analysed. As in every strategy, success depends on certain factors being set in place, one of which is gender balance in positions of authority and control within our communities. Gender equity leads to teamwork and a blending of visions, paving the way for more extensive and holistic solutions.
A recent research by the University of Liverpool and the University of Reading, which looked at the results of 194 countries in their battle against COVID-19, found that female-led countries were relatively more effective in combating the pandemic than male-led countries. It is worth noting, though, that there has always been a fair presence of both sexes in the main positions of power and influence, indicating that gender-equal leadership environments lead to healthier, stronger and more consensual decisions.
Inspiration begins at home
Women making advances in the MENA region today are emblematic of the countries themselves, which could easily have spent the next few decades enabling their oil revenues to fuel their growth. Instead, these countries are stretching to develop knowledge-based economies. Similarly, female leaders are continually challenging their society's perceptions of them and pushing boundaries to do more than anyone thought, both socially and professionally.
Women’s leadership has been crucial to ensure that no one was left behind during the global response to COVID-19. The success of the ‘10 Million Meals’ campaign led by H.H. Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum, which was launched to support COVID-19-hit communities in the UAE, is just one of the many initiatives that demonstrates the impact of Emirati women’s leadership. More recently, we also witnessed the UAE Minister of State for Advanced Technology H.E. Sarah Al Amiri’s inspiring leadership that saw the UAE become the fifth country in the world to have its probe reach Mars despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
In the larger Arab world too, women have been an unequivocally powerful driving force fuelling the development of the region and there are plenty of examples. The work of Dr. Hayat Sindi, the first Saudi woman to get a PhD in Biotechnology and a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, is particularly inspiring. In her current role as the Senior Advisor to the President of Science, Technology and Innovation at the Islamic Development Bank in Saudi Arabia, Dr. Sindi is working on raising awareness about two new initiatives: a fund to promote and nurture science, technology, and innovation, and a digital platform aimed at accelerating economic and social progress in the developing world through science technology and innovation.
The UAE: A step ahead
The UAE has unwaveringly championed for the rights of women for decades. Efforts put in by the country’s leadership towards women empowerment has seen women actively participating in all sectors and the conspicuous contribution of women is thoroughly encouraged, hailed, and applauded. Through education, the UAE has left no stone unturned to nurture and empower young minds to actively part-take in all programmes that support national development, and their presence is felt rightfully so.
The “National Strategy for Women Empowerment and Pioneering in the UAE 2015-2021,” which was launched by H.H. Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, was one of the key factors that has helped in empowering women and removing the obstacles facing their participation in all sectors. The recent landmark legislation substantiating equal pay for men and women in the UAE, as decreed by H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE is not only a reality but is yet another feather in the nation’s continuous efforts towards empowering women.
The UAE believes in the woman’s role in the society as a leader, decision-maker and a key partner in the development process. A telling remark of this is the fact that 34% of the team on the Emirates Mars Mission team are women, while women also comprise 66% of public sector employees. Women also occupy 44 per cent of leadership roles in federal government entities – which is substantially higher than in many parliaments across the globe.
The UAE has also been recognised globally for its reforms and initiatives that have placed women on the forefront. It was ranked 1st in the Arab region and 26th in the world in the United Nation’s Development Programme’s Gender Inequality Index in 2019. These are but just a few of facts and figures that showcase the UAE’s impressive global stature in gender metrics.
Creating better opportunities
Education is an important part of creating better opportunities. Programmes addressing women’s education and economic empowerment are not only beneficial from a human rights perspective, but they are transformative economically as well.
In the face of new policies that empower women, technological and social shifts, we must invest in a transformative change in favour of equality, so women can play a more significant role in leadership roles and creating solutions for the region. It is no surprise that the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals include not only gender-specific actions and statistics, but also an entire goal dedicated to gender parity.
As the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said: “Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.”