Shaikh Hamdan presents the Mohammad Bin Rashid Medal for Women to Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, at the Global Women’s Forum in Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News


The UAE government and its institutions are doing an incredible job in empowering women to realise their full potential as citizens and members of the society, said Christine Legarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), at the Global Women’s Forum in Dubai on Tuesday.

“The UAE’s track record of empowering women by bringing them to the main stream is a story to be told globally and an example to be followed around the world,” said Legarde.

A recent study of 143 countries on empowerment of women around the world showed there are rules in more than 90 per cent of these countries that by law gender equality is prevented. “In this context it is very encouraging to see that here the government is pushing hard to get women to realise their full potential as individuals in areas such as education, political decision making and professional advancement. I am told that more than 70 per cent taking up higher education in the UAE are women,” she said.

Commenting on her career graph, Legarde said as a woman she had her own share of struggle in breaking through the glass ceilings in her profession as a lawyer, later as a politician and now aas managing director of the IMF for the second term.

“Every individual has to go through the struggle of realizing one’s dream. As a woman the struggle could be harder because of the restrictions imposed by society. This is where governments should step in to make a level playing field for women to compete on an equal footing with men,” she said.

Legarde called for further reforms in the IMF that could transform the multilateral agency to more proactively involve human struggles caused by crises ranging from wars, epidemics, social backwardness or economic catastrophes.

“The IMF has been very much caught up in a remedial mode. Historically our role has been limited to providing policy recommendations and funding for structural reforms to remedy a crisis that has happened. Going forward, we should think of reorienting institution to work in a preventive mode, to work with governments and institutions around the world to prevent a crisis from happening,” Legarde said.

Although the world is facing one crisis or the other, the advancements in science and technology are creating new opportunities for both men and women to excel.

“There have been major technology breakthroughs happening in areas such as nano technology, artificial intelligence and 3D printing, which many argue is the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution. I am optimistic that the new era of technology-led advancement will be more inclusive towards women. In this context the efforts of governments like the UAE in bridging the gender gap in areas such as education and technology will go a long way in creating an inclusive economy and society,” said Legarde.