Sharjah: Gender equality in the UAE has been achieved, with women even leading men in several fields, Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance, said on Thursday during the Investing in the Future Conference in Sharjah.

Addressing the closing session of the two-day conference, Shaikha Lubna said “gender equality has become a reality” in the country. “In the UAE, we’re going beyond empowering women, to empowering society through women,” she added.

The minister said the focus now is on “responding to a fast-changing world” and on ensuring societal stability.

In the UAE, women account for two-thirds of the labour force, she pointed out, adding that just around 21,000 women control wealth worth Dh12 billion in the country.

“Emirati women are on the path of financial independence and prosperity,” Shaikha Lubna said, adding that the UAE Cabinet four years ago announced that all boards of government organisations must have a female representative.

She also cited a number of UN and other rankings that placed the UAE first in the Mena region in terms of respect for women and gender equality.

In her speech covering a variety of points, Shaikha Lubna said the UAE would continue to provide platforms for women “so they know they have the support and confidence to push them towards success”. Examples of such services include networking opportunities between women, and between women and SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises).

“We have yet to exploit the full potential of Emirati businesswomen, who can create jobs for themselves and for others.”

Though there has been an “exponential increase” of women in business, Shaikha Lubna called for innovative approaches to motivate women to go beyond their impressive accomplishments.

She also thanked the UAE leadership for its support and care for women.

The conference, held this year under the agenda of ‘Building the Resilience of Women and Girls in Arab Region’, took place at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre in Sharjah. Hosts of the event were The Big Heart Foundation and UN Women (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women), which on Tuesday opened its first office in the region in the UAE.

The two-day event brought together government officials, representatives of international organisations and non-governmental organisations, advocates of gender equality, academics and a number of experts and media personalities from the region and beyond.