Although the World Economic Forum has already ranked the UAE as the leading country in gender equality within the Middle East closing 64% of its overall gender gap, the record-breaking country championed for achieving the “biggest” and the “best” has its sights set on something greater: Becoming one of the world’s top 25 countries for gender equality by 2021. Taking proactive steps to realize this vision, the UAE is fast becoming a model for gender balance in the region, empowering women in social, economic, political, and educational spheres.
This change has not gone unnoticed by US presidential adviser Ivanka Trump, who delivered the keynote address on the topic of women empowerment at the opening of the Global Women’s Forum Dubai (GWFD) at Madinat Jumeirah yesterday, February 16.
“Substantial legal reforms have been made by governments across the Middle East this past year to advance gender equality,” wrote Trump on Instagram. “I participated in the Women’s Global Forum Dubai and We-Fi Regional Summit this weekend to build on this momentum and advocate for further change across the region and around the world.”
Centered around the theme “The Power of Influence”, GWFD invited more than 100 global leaders and 3,000 delegates, including former UK prime minister Theresa May and managing director of the IMF Kristalina Georgieva, to engage in actionable dialogue on the advancement of women in the Arab world and highlight those who are already paving the path for future generations.
In her speech, Trump praised the UAE and its leadership for the increasing representation of Emirati women in the local economy as well as “removing barriers to women joining the workforce and developing a national strategy that recognizes women as central to sustainable growth”. The US President’s daughter also recognized many other countries in the region that are making progress in gender equality, such as Bahrain’s legislation against workplace discrimination and Morocco’s expansion of land rights.
Women in the Emirates are quickly becoming leaders in both public and private sectors of the workforce across all disciplines, a fact HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE shared with his followers on Twitter yesterday after attending the GWFD with his son Sheikh Hamdan. “We are proud of UAE‘s achievements and grateful for the efforts of Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak whose energy propelled the UAE to leading positions in empowering women,” tweeted His Highness. “Women make up a third of UAE government, 50% of Federal National Council, & over 70% of university graduates.”
These new graduates especially are the ones who are going to make long-lasting strides and positive worldwide impact explained Trump. “You are the women who are going to imagine new industries, discover new cures, create works of beauty, and improve lives around the world,” said the American businesswoman. “We come together to ask nations in this region to continue to work with us to break new ground, to institute changes—legally and culturally—that will give every woman a chance to determine her own destiny and bring greater peace and prosperity to this region and to the world.”
Arab women have long been challenging gender-based norms, defying outdated myths, and redefining what it means to have equal rights, so it was only a matter of time before the international world noticed and championed its progress.