Women in the United Arab Emirates make-up 11.7 percent of the total workforce, the highest in the Arab world, a study by the UAE Ministry of Social Affairs reported last week.
According to the ministry, women contributed 15 percent of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the UAE in 1995. Women hold 25 percent of the technical jobs and 25 percent of sales jobs in the UAE. Eight percent of writers are women.
Women began entering the workforce 30 years ago, going from 3.4 percent in 1975 to 5.3 percent in 1980. Their number peaked at 11.7 percent in 1995.
The ministry's study is based on a 1998 United Nations Human Development report.
The study found that as more UAE women entered the work force, the number of non-UAE women in the work force decreased. Foreign women made up 53.3 percent of the work force in 1985. The number went down to 42.1 percent in 1995.
The ministry says the increase in women’s participation in the labor force is due to an increase of educated women. Eighty percent of university and college graduates in the UEA are women. With government expansion of health, education, and other social services more and more women are finding work.
Despite the encouragement, women get to enter the work force, the study shows tradition plays a major role in determining which jobs they take. Although a selection of occupations is available, large numbers of women choose social service jobs such as education, health, social services, and writing.
The ministry found that society still believes women are incapable of performing as well as men, and is keeping them out of production jobs. Women comprised 64.4 percent of social service employees, but only 2.6 percent of the work force in the fields of electricity and water.
However, a significant change occurred in the type of work women are doing in the period between 1980 and 1995. More women left government jobs and entered the private sector. In 1995, UAE women made up 74.6 percent of the workers in the private sector.
Women’s performance in the private sector has changed the attitude towards women’s work in general. More women are now encouraged to enter non-traditional jobs and focus on the private sector. – (Albawaba-MEBG)
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