It’s the UAE’s latest move to support gender balance in the workplace.

You’ll have heard before about the strong focus on closing the gender gap here in the UAE. HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum himself has backed a guide for businesses on how to best promote gender balance, and the national Gender Balance Council was praised at a United Nations meeting in March.

It’s all part of the plan to have the Emirates ranked as one of the top 25 countries in the world for gender balance by 2021.

Sheikh Mohammed helps promote equality at gender balance workshop
The UAE’s Gender Balance Council has been praised at UN meeting

It makes sense, then, that the government wants to make things as easy as possible for working mothers. That’s pretty much the definition of a gendered issue.

The latest on that front comes in the form of an in-office childcare centre at the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources. Opened by Her Excellency Mona Al Marri, the Al Basateen childcare centre will also serve workers from the nearby Ministry of Energy, the Federal Transport Authority – Land & Maritime and the Emirates Authority for Standardisation & Metrology.

mona al marri

Al Marri, who’s also vice-president of the UAE Gender Balance Council, said that providing high-quality, convenient childcare was a key factor in making workplaces more supportive for women. It improves job satisfaction and productivity, as well.

Her Excellency hoped that other organisations in the UAE would follow suit.

The announcement comes nearly a year after the government extended paid maternity leave for its employees to three months. While the private sector isn’t typically as generous, with six weeks being the standard, pressure has been on for companies to extend that. Some businesses have already upped their offering, with Omnicom Media Group MENA, Chep, and Dubizzle among them.

We’re thinking this new childcare centre is likely to be a huge plus for both workers it serves and the agencies themselves. US outdoor clothing company Patagonia found that when they started providing childcare, their staff turnover dropped by 25 per cent.

In terms of helping women keep their jobs, and excel while they’re there, it seems like a no-brainer. We’re hoping to see the initiative expanded.

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Images: Dubai Media Office