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 having 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.

The construction sector – a huge part of the UAE’s growth-driven economy – features female engineers, but not enough in leadership roles. Analysts suggest it is as much a cultural anomaly as a factor relating to skills and experience, and this is where the UAE is striving to make change.

As one of the changes in play, the UAE Cabinet approved a law ensuring women are paid equally to men in April 2018. A survey among 750 companies revealed that while 90 percent of them paid the same regardless of gender, a local quirk is that men are often paid housing and schooling allowances, seemingly skewing salaries in their favour.

This move further assists not just young Emirati women to pursue a professional career but also widens opportunities for Emirati mums looking to shift into different career paths. In keeping with the country’s initiatives, Careers UAE 2019 will highlight female empowerment across all sectors through its partnership with Mums@Work, an online job search platform with a goal to connect mums with flexible work. During the show Mums@Work will host a series of female-focused workshop series with the aim of further attracting strong independent Emirati career-oriented women to the show.

Careers UAE will host a series of panel discussions exploring growing opportunities and tips to address challenges Emirati youth may face when trying to choose their career path. The show is crafted to offer young Emiratis a year-round platform to identify suitable job vacancies and updates around the growing trends across different industries. The 2019 edition of the show will offer both male and female Emirati professionals multiple opportunities to explore their career of choice.

As Dr Raja Al Gurg, Managing Director, Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group excellently stated during a recent interview with Emirates Woman regarding the launch of her autobiography: "...remember that as a woman, do what you are capable of achieving, not to prove a point as a female, but to fulfill your own personal goals and aspirations."

The ambitious plans to drive Dubai and the UAE forward require bright, ambitious Emiratis at the helm. Finding the right career might be intimidating, but there are plenty of opportunities available for you to pursue your dream role.

If you’re looking for inspiration in your choice of career or to simply connect with employers from different industries, make it a point to attend recruitment shows such as Careers UAE. These recruitment shows offer you and similar job seekers a platform for dialogue, networking opportunities among role models, talent, job seekers and potential employers – this access helps you  explore new career paths, understand market trends and also grow within  existing fields.


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