The outlook on women's socio-economic advancement in the UAE continues to be positive, according to the MasterCard Worldwide Index of Women's Advancement.
Yet women in the UAE are feeling less empowered with the overall index score declining from 122.24 in 2009 to 105.94 in 2010.
The UAE also witnessed a decrease in the number of women perceiving themselves as making the financial decisions for their household. Only 30 per cent of women believe they hold the household's purse strings this year compared to 60 per cent last year. Also, a significantly lower proportion of women perceive themselves to be in managerial positions – 71 women per 100 men in 2010 compared to 140 women per 100 men in 2009.
The index measures the socio-economic level using the following four key indicators. Two of the indicators are based on source data from national statistics bureaus and show the ratio of female to male participation in the labour force and tertiary education; two of the indicators are based on survey data, and measure the ratio of female to male respondent perceptions of whether they hold managerial positions at work and earn above median income.
In the UAE, the proportion of women to men in terms of labor force participation rate (42.01 in 2009 to 42.41 in 2010) continues to rise gradually from last year. In addition, compared to last year, a greater proportion of women to men now perceive themselves to be earning above median income - 97 women per 100 men this year vs. 84 women per 100 men in 2009. However, the proportion of women to men in terms of tertiary education enrollment rate (222.56 in 2009 to 213.91 in 2010) has reported a decrease from last year.
The pan-regional Index score across the Middle East has decreased from 89.74 in 2009 to 80.72 this year, with five of the six Middle East and Levant markets seeing a decrease in their scores. The UAE is ranked third in the Middle East and Levant.
"The results for the 2010 MasterCard Worldwide Index of Women's Advancement show that UAE women enjoy high levels of socio-economic advancement. In fact, Index scores for the UAE are higher than countries such as Australia and New Zealand. While these results are clearly positive, we also need to note that UAE women are feeling less empowered in 2010 compared to the previous year, with scores for tertiary education and incidence of management positions registering a decline," said Eyad Al-Kourdi, country manager and vice president, Southern Gulf - UAE, Qatar & Oman, MasterCard Worldwide.
Four of the six Middle East markets surveyed reported an increase in the number of women seeing themselves as making most of the major financial decisions in their households, with Qatar (+26.6 percentage points) and Kuwait (+14.5 percentage points) reporting significant increases from last year. Saudi Arabia (- 33.1 percentage points) and the UAE (-30.1 percentage points) witnessed sharp declines, contributing to the drop in the pan-regional percentage.