In a seminar attended by a highly diverse audience, including representatives from various public and private institutions as well as professors, researchers, academics, young scholars, policy makers and reporters, Suaad Al Oraimi, a gender specialist from UAEU examined the government’s strategy through a gender lens and discussed initiatives promoting the empowerment of women.
She began by giving a general overview on the definition of gender, outlining important international reports and agreements and tracing the historical meaning of gender in the UAE. Moving on, she spoke about the contemporary UAE, where the government has made women’s empowerment a key component of its strategy, working towards reshaping traditional social gender roles. She outlined the progress made so far and the challenges that women still face. For example today, the federal state has subsidized education of women at different levels. In fact, Emirati women have made great strides in education, exceeding their counterpart, men, in higher education. Women also have a larger representation in the federal government and a substantial number are currently running small and medium businesses in the country.
Dr. Al-Oraimi said: “Despite efforts which have placed the UAE at the forefront of other Arab countries with regards to women’s advancement and empowerment, much more remains to be achieved. Women in the UAE still find themselves confined to socially shaped roles that hinder their full participation in the development processes. New policies need to be made to alter this, and we should move beyond avoiding traditional barriers.” She added: “The economic and social development of the country is contingent on the significant participation of women.”
Dr. May Al Dabbagh, Director of the Gender and Public Policy Program and moderator of the panel said: “Globalization has created many opportunities for women in the UAE and the GCC, but has also posed constraints. Through the research and public seminars organized by our program, we are gaining a better understanding of the effect of globalization on women in the region. Our seminar today, highlights how much governments are involved in women’s empowerment initiatives and how much scope there is for thinking of new ways to engage on such issues in the future.”