The statistics regarding women in the Emirates are quite optimistic. The number of women working in the private sector has increased over the past 30 years, with a growing number of women running their own businesses, such as grocery stores, hairdressing salons and tailor shops. According to UN Development Program statistics, women make up approximately 49 percent of the population on UAE and over 70 percent of university and higher education institutes are women.
However, reported Abu Dhabi Economy magazine, the roles women play in the business world are largely restricted and essentially limited to women-oriented sectors. Moreover, they account for less than 15 percent of the Emirates’ businesses. Despite the rise in education opportunities offered to women in the emirates and abroad, “male” professions such as contracting, engineering and other industrial vocations remain off limits to females. Men are undoubtedly favored for the more technical professions, and women are largely discouraged to study the subjects that are crucial for their entry into many business sectors. These include all sciences, engineering fields and information technology.
The discouragement of such an integration restricts women from assisting in the development of the local economies as well as maintaining the dependence on foreign workers.
According to Abu Dhabi Economy, only 22 percent of women between the ages of 15-65 have some kind of productive work, while a mere five percent play some kind of role in their family owned businesses.
Although a willingness to have more women involved exists, the road is still long. The role of women as child-bearers and housewives remains of considerable importance, and cannot be altered or diminished. The challenges are substantial, yet, an openness and furthering of education and opportunities are likely to assist in giving women more leverage in the growing businesses of the UAE. –(Albawaba-MEBG)
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