Empowering Women to Pursue Diverse Career Pathways

by Asma Al-Sharif, Show Director, Careers UAE 2019

Several new initiatives are dramatically widening career opportunities for women in the UAE

How directives such as gender parity pay and top-level FNC appointments have widened career opportunities for women in the UAE

While equality has been preserved in the UAE’s constitution since the country’s formation in 1971, gender parity is a global issue, but one which the UAE authorities are working tirelessly to address.

The tone and desire to support gender equality started with, the founding father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan – decades of support have seen the UAE achieve a leading position in GCC-wide gender parity studies.

However, on a global level, while the UAE scores well in terms of the political engagement of women, it ranked 121st out of 149 countries involved in the 2018 World Economic Forum Report – highlighting the strides needed to change this statistic.

Interest in opportunities to further empower women seeking career pathways has been stirred again, following the recent directive to double female representation in the Federal National Council in the coming parliamentary term. A positive knock-on effect has been the renewed dialogue among public and private sector companies to offer women tools and new opportunities to choose their professional goals and even take up more senior roles in typically male-dominated industries and positions. Historically, women didn’t pursue careers in construction, aviation or oil, and gas – today, women can take up roles across any industry offering employers a new generation of untapped potential and talent.

While female Emiratis have taken up positions in traditionally male-dominated roles and thrived in industries such as aerospace, women still remain under-represented across fields like construction and oil & gas.

As a county, the UAE has a number of female role models in powerful positions across government, business and academia, while a UAE Gender Balance Council is working to support women’s empowerment and promote equality.

Young Emirati women today have several role models to look up to who are recognized today as pioneers have made their mark across typically male-dominated professions such as Amna Al Qubaisi (first Emirati female racing driver), Nouf Al Afifi (first female Emirati air traffic controller), Amna Al Haddad (first female Emirati athlete to compete in Crossfit and Olympic weightlifting in the Middle East), among others.