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04 March 2024

GCC urged to widen employment net for women

Female workers in the GCC are concentrated in a handful of sectors, mainly services and trade (REUTERS)

By Staff Writer

Gulf nations need to issue new legislation to encourage women to take up jobs and end discrimination against them, a UAE scholar said yesterday. Dr Fatima Al Shamsi, Secretary-General of the Al Ain-based UAE University, said women's participation in the labour market in the six-nation GCC has remained low despite progress over the past years.

She blamed it on "bias and discrimination" against female workers, the high presence of foreign labour and social factors. "There is an urgent need for the GCC to enact laws and legislations to prevent this bias and discrimination against women in the labour market," Dr Fatima told a human resources conference in Abu Dhabi.

"What we see is a sort of non-equality between men and women in jobs, especially when it comes to promotion to a decision-making position… another reason is the high concentration of foreign labour in the private sector… the GCC states need to step up the policy of replacement of this labour."

Her figures showed there has been a big leap in female participation in jobs in the six members since early 1960s but she added that the percentage has remained too low compared with other countries. She put it at around 15-24 per cent, which "is far below the required level and ambitions".

She said female workers in the GCC are concentrated in a handful of sectors, mainly services and trade. "Most of them are in the public sector… another problem is that women's income is much lower than male workers. In Saudi Arabia for example, the income of female workers is only around 16 per cent of male workers, which is the lowest level in the GCC… we need to enact laws to redress this problem," she said

"What is required also is to provide more training for women, convince families to encourage their women to work and drop this attitude that the woman's work is not a necessity."