The UAE Government's strong focus on creating a culture that supports women's education and participation in the workforce is responsible for significantly reducing the gender gap in the UAE, said Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, wife of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
Sheikha Manal, also President of Dubai Women Establishment (DWE), congratulated the UAE Government on the country's achievement for taking the top spot in reducing the gender gap among 14 Arab economies, according to The World Economic Forum's recently released Global Gender Gap Report.
The report is based on the analysis of four factors - economic participation and opportunities, educational attainment, political empowerment, and health and survival.
The UAE emerged as one of the leading countries in the field of women's participation and achieved a progress of nine points from last year's report. A total of 59 per cent of the overall workforce in the UAE are women, out of which 53 per cent work in the government sector. And 30 per cent of the senior positions are held by a woman. The UAE is also considered one of the top-rating countries in terms of female education with women accounting for 77 per cent of the student population in universities.
Sheikha Manal said: "The continuous efforts of the UAE government to provide educational and employment opportunities to women, and its recognition of the vital role women play in the growth and development of a nation's economy, have led the UAE down a path of rapid progress in the sphere of gender equality.
"By supporting the efforts of organisations such as DWE, the UAE Government has empowered women to create desirable changes in terms of enabling policies and perceptions, which has succeeded in raising the position of women in the family, in the workplace and in the economy at large.
"Inspired by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, DWE continues to empower UAE women to overcome gender-related obstacles that prevent them from achieving their goals, especially when it comes to balancing their work life with their family life."
Key DWE initiatives include efforts to provide continuous training opportunities and skills enhancement for women on the job, networking opportunities for career development and childcare support by launching the National Child Care (NCC) standards, which is the first of its kind in the UAE and in the region.
The NCC benchmarks the best policy and practice standards for corporate child care centres for working women through the provision of onsite crèches that promote a healthier work-life balance, in addition to issuing the Arab Women Leaders Outlook Report in 2009.