Sharjah: While the UAE is making great strides in gender equality, the world is still lagging in achieving parity at work, the Women’s Economic Empowerment Global Summit (WEEGS) in Sharjah heard on Tuesday.
The UAE ranks first in the Arab World and now 26th globally on the UNDP Gender Inequality Index 2019, WEEGS delegates heard about the ranking, released just a day ago. This is just one place away from its goal to be among the top 25 countries by 2021.
On Tuesday, addressing the opening ceremony, His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, said the UAE’s efforts towards gender equality are making an impact beyond the country, through various establishments and initiatives by the public and private sectors.
He said more work needs to be done in Asia, Africa and South America, promising support to establishments who seek to address the needs of women in those regions, especially in the sectors of education, health and economy.
Though there has been progress in women’s empowerment globally, it will take around 200 years at current pace to achieve full equality in the workplace, warned Reem Bin Karam, Director, NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA), organisers of WEEGS in collaboration with UN Women.
Women’s advancement under the theme “Drivers of Change” is under the spotlight at the second edition WEEGS, being held until Wednesday at Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre.
It is held under the patronage Dr Shaikh Sultan and Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, and chairperson of NAMA.
“In several countries, women’s realities could be significantly improved with strong direction and financial support. Thus, on behalf of WEEGS and Sharjah, I announce that I will sponsor the implementation of women’s economic empowerment programmes spearheaded not only by Sharjah-based institutions, but by entities worldwide,” Shaikh Sultan said.
“We all have a responsibility to maximise the outreach of empowerment efforts worldwide, especially in places where women suffer the gravest hardships. In Asia, Africa or Latin America, for instance, a sizeable percentage of girls and women are deprived of basic health care. This is why, we must go beyond the Arab world to extend our support to women around the world where they need us the most. I hereby pledge to sponsor global efforts to support women’s economic empowerment, and particularly in Africa, Asia and Latin America, where women need us to be by their side.”
The two-day event is featuring 18 theme-specific sessions that brings together a host of local and global experts, women empowerment advocates and senior industry figures to address opportunities available to women across four pillars: gender-responsive procurement, women’s participation in value chains, the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), and women’s access to finance.
The opening ceremony on Tuesday also presented the achievements of organisations that had pledged to implement some of the WEPs at the first edition of WEEGS in 2017.
In a session titled “Shaping Future Economies”, experts reviewed the results of policies set to integrate women’s participation in the economy and discussed the pros and cons of the measures.
In the third session of the day, titled “Money Talks”, leaders of financial enterprises examined why access to capital remains a critical challenge for women entrepreneurs to start or grow their businesses.