Accelerating women's participation in decision-making in the Arub Gulf Region
Alnahda Philanthropic Society for Women
Women in power and decision-making, Women and the economy, Human rights of women, Education and training of women
SDG4 – Quality Education, SDG5 – Gender Equality, SDG8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, SDG16 – Peace and Justice Strong Institutions, SDG17 – Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Bullying (2016), Harassment (2016), Tolerance of Minority Groups (2016), Sexual Harassment in Workplace (2019)
I am not aware of any advocacy work on such but am always interested to learn of progress being made on the subject.
In recent years the MENA region has witnessed major reforms to empower women. According to the World Bank's "Women, Business and the Law 2020 Report", of the ten economies that improved the most last year, six are in the Middle East and North Africa. Experts from the Arab Gulf area discussed the situation. A director from the World Bank talked about the importance of women's role in a nation's wealth. In wealthier nations 2/3 of that wealth is dependent on its human capital. In the GCC it is only 1/3, largely because half the population has not until recently been involved. More women are graduating that men but they have not been in he work force. If this number increased there would be a major impact on the economic growth of the country. In the last three years there has been a major shift in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain – in 2017 women were 15% of the about force and in 2020, 30%. Several laws have been passed in the UAE to improve the situation – quotas in governments and in director positions in companies. But more laws are needed and a huge campaign. In Qatar, Oman and Kuwait a strong government commitment for reform is needed, cooperation among the government ministers and agencies and then an effective way to implement changes. What is ideal is a gender neutral policy where everyone is welcome to be productive in a non-threatening environment. It is hoped that lessons learned can be shared but legal reforms alone are not sufficient. Decision making can happen at the national level but it needs to trickle down to the home. Once you change the laws how do you change procedures and incentives? How do you get more women in leading positions? It is good to have the best practices in place but you also need to understand the context in which you are operating ie the culture. Quotas are a start but not sustainable. How do the women involve the men. Some men do not mind their wives working but are concerned about the perception by those around them. Thus the main reason may not be religion. People need to have courageous conversations – only then can understanding take place and curriculums need to be continually revised to reflect change.
It can open minds and share the realities on the ground in that part of the world.

Countries experiencing the same issues can work together to determine best practices to go forward. Progress is being made.

Author: Hally Siddons

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