The UAE has made great leaps and strides when it comes to gender equality in the last few years.

The Dubai Women Establishment has been set up, as has the Gender Balance Council, and the government is looking at improving the country’s maternity laws.

However there’s more to be done – particularly in one area.

The private sector is lacking women in senior positions, and just generally across their workforce, according to Gender Balance Council vice-chair HE Mona Al Marri.

Compared to the public sector, where the workforce is made up of 66 per cent women, the private sector is letting down the side with 30 per cent of its leadership roles filled by females.

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The federal Cabinet alone appointed eight women to prominent positions earlier this year, including Her Excellency Ohood Al Roumi as the much-talked about Minister of State for Happiness.

“It saddens me that gender diversity is often not at the top of corporate agendas [in this region],” Al Marri said at a recent conference in Dubai, The National reported.

al marri

“The winds of change are blowing, and believe me you don’t want to be left behind. It’s time for the corporate world in our region to rewrite their gender playbooks so that they can tap fresh perspectives and ideas from women.”

In this year’s Global Gender Gap Report, the UAE came 83 out of 144 countries when it came to the political empowerment of women.

When it came to economic participation and opportunities, the Emirates came in 130th place.

(It’s not all bad though – while no Middle Eastern county has fully closed its gender gap in education and health, the UAE came “close” in the latter, the report stated. It also drew attention to how we’ve seen improvement on women parliamentarians).

So what is being done about it?

Well, luckily the Dubai Women Establishment’s five-year development strategy for 2017-2021 has a focus on getting more females noticed in the workforce.

Key parts of the plan will work on promoting the skills of Emirati women, as well as enhancing their capabilities within the UAE.

The DWE plan to make more progress on integrating women into the UAE’s developmental process, as well as enhancing their status and leadership.

Al Marri has previously said that “the country’s government believes in the power of women and the role that they can play in society”.

“Our visionary leadership that supports women 100 per cent believes that for a society to be productive, it has to utilise the talents and capabilities of women who represent around half of the UAE population.”

In fact, the UAE hopes to become one of world’s top 25 countries for gender equality by 2021.

Fancy helping us with that, private sector companies? Let the job ads commence…

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Image: Getty