Female empowerment in the Middle East
Around 50 years ago, the progression of female empowerment in the Middle East was far behind the rest of the world. Women were not a part of the business or political spheres. For women to be listed on Forbes, was absolutely unbelievable. Today, however, the UAE has made noteworthy progress in female empowerment, which has rivaled many other developed nations worldwide.
According to World Economic Global Gender Gap Report, the UAE is ranked among the leading countries for gender equality in their region. In 2015, the UAE established Gender Balance Council - a government entity that enhances and encourages female participation in leadership roles. The UAE has also gone a step further to put in place other organizations that supervise gender equality, not only in their own country but in the whole Gulf region (GCC). Among many other initiatives, UAE actively promotes leadership training camps for Emirati women preparing to work in business and political fields.
The result in the UAE
These continuous efforts have proved to be fruitful. Today, 70% of all university graduates are women. 46% of graduates have a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics fields. The literacy rate for Emirati women is 95.8%. The current employment of women in UAE’s Space program is 50%. UAE is the first country in the region to require every government organization and every company to have female board members.
The efforts also stem from the belief that both genders are equal parts of society. The late H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan famously said “The woman is half of society; any country which pursues development should not leave her in poverty or illiteracy. I am on the woman’s side”.
Although the UAE still has room to grow for female empowerment, they have made remarkable success in a relatively short period of time. Other countries, especially those with similar cultural and religious beliefs, should model these structures and continue on a path for a balanced, healthy, and supportive society.