WEEGS focuses on key role for empowering women

WEEGS focuses on key role for empowering women
WEEGS focuses on key role for empowering women

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Nevin Al Sukari - Abu Dhabi - The UAE is empowering its women by implementing legislations that ensure their effective participation in the development process. File photo

Under the theme, ‘Drivers of Change’, the second edition of the Women’s Economic Empowerment Global Summit (WEEGS) will address the significance of legislation in accelerating women’s empowerment and gender equity in the private sector.

The Summit, which is organised by the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment in collaboration with UN Women, from December 10 – 11, 2019, in Sharjah, will highlight the role of legal frameworks in eliminating all obstacles that impede women’s participation in the development process and their engagement in sectors that generate good income, to enable them to support their communities and promote national economic growth.

Specialised women’s empowerment studies have emphasised the need for adequate legal and institutional frameworks to embed or expand equal rights. This will help steer policies and restructure budgets to ensure gender equity outcomes. This includes supporting women in all stages of the production process by allocating resources for training to enhance their capabilities, in addition to providing support to their projects in all vital sectors.

This approach is not restricted to a specific country or region, as gender equity is a shared global challenge. Countries around the world have been demanding the development of legislative systems to drive positive change and support women’s economic empowerment to bridge the gaps that prevent women from having equal access to economic tools. This will contribute to lowering economic losses, estimated by the World Bank’s 2018 report at $2.16 trillion, which are caused by unequal opportunities and gender inequity worldwide.

The US, for example, is still suffering a gender pay gap estimated at 17 percentage points. The nation’s government is trying to narrow down this gap by implementing fiscal policies to improve women’s economic development programmes and by allocating budgets that support women’s entrepreneurship. Last year, the US Senate passed the women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment programme bill, which supports women in gaining access to finance, land rights and education.

In the UAE, a guide was recently published by the Department of Research and Development at the General Women’s Union (GWU) detailing the methodologies, tools and gender mainstreaming inclusion in policies, strategies and budgets. The guide suggests that in order to develop a legislative system that achieves gender equity, legislators and developers of strategic plans, initiatives, programmes and budgets need to analyse the needs of each segment of the community and incorporate measures to fulfil them to ensure equal opportunities for all.

Justice, in this view, is an indivisible principle. In other words, equal opportunities in the private sector cannot be separated from the inclusive economic approach and the level of integrity and transparency that companies need to implement measures to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs recognise the importance of gender equality, both as a goal in itself and as a prerequisite for sustainable development.

This has been clearly indicated in a study by NAMA and the Pearl Initiative on the impact of business environment as a catalyst or a challenge for women. The study shows that 71% of female employees in the gulf region private sector maintain that the key factor for their career progression is the organisational culture that supports women in the workforce, i.e. when their companies adopt policies that support women.

Many organisations, including the UN, donor organisations, national and international NGOs, particularly the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), contribute to encouraging gender-responsive budgeting (GRB), which ensures gender-equitable distribution of resources in 30 countries. The Al Badeel Centre for Studies and Research points out that 15 countries around the world have methodologically included guiding principles to gender-responsive budgets.

The UAE believes that women’s empowerment in development, social and cultural fields elevates the quality of life, strengthens the community, upholds the social fabric and supports the economy. In line with this belief, the UAE cabinet in December 2018, approved a package of legislation, policies and initiatives to mark a new phase of women empowerment.

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