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Qatar plans to empower women politically and economically

Laws to focus on maternity benefits and family-friendly work places

Gulf News

Manama: More Qatari women are joining the labour force amid expectations by the government to have their participation rate in the labour force reach 42 per cent by 2016, the National Development Strategy (NDS) 2011-2016 has said.

The new rate would mark a massive cultural shift in Qatari society and the government has taken several measures to be ready for it, particularly through the 2009 Law on Human Resources Administration to improve women's working conditions, Gulf Times daily reported Thursday.

The law includes provisions for a 60-day maternity leave, allotted time (two hours a day for a year) and extended care leave for women with disabled children under the age of six.

However, the extent to which women are able to participate and remain in the labour market is intrinsically linked to the support available to help them balance family and professional responsibilities.

Employment practices

The government will improve support for working families, particularly women, by expanding child care facilities and family-friendly employment practices and encouraging gender-sensitive working environments.

The NDS says that the increase in the number of women joining the labour force is consistent with their rising educational attainment and that as learning opportunities continue to increase, women's participation in the workforce will also increase.

Qatari women made up 27 per cent of the labour force in 2001. This gradually rose to 36 per cent in 2008 and remained steady in 2009.

However, the NDS says that while implementing measures to provide better care for children and families and to strengthen marriages, the government must be aware of the delicate balancing act of preserving and enhancing the traditional Qatari family core while empowering women economically and politically.

The target is to put in place measures that support working women, including revising the current human resources law and the maternity leave policy.