Yesterday was International Women’s Day. It was an occasion to celebrate women across the globe -- it is for businesswomen and entrepreneurs an opportunity to review their performance and design strategies which will keep pace with the developments of a period which is being considered as the fastest and most intense in modern history.
Businesswomen are not only the guardians of their achievements and those of their female peers; they are responsible for taking them to a level reflective of real, qualitative partnerships. This should not just be justified by the women-to-men ratio, but by the impact their businesses have on the economy and on community, and whether or not their business mission and outcomes are in service of national interests.
If we address the reality of Emirati women entrepreneurs in the UAE, there are many investments that can be made to achieve a greater output, in terms of both output and value. The first is government support for women’s projects and capacity development programmes and the accompanying support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that make up 94 per cent companies operating in the country with a contribution of 60 per cent to the nation’s non-oil GDP.
Economic diversification policies
The second investment will be in economic diversification policies. There are emerging sectors that are still in the process of being formed and will be established soon, representing an opportunity for women to play leading roles role in shaping these sectors and define their trends from the get-go. These sectors include as emerging technologies, IT, financial engineering, modern agriculture, intermediate services that enable the public to access various products and services, as well as smart cities and digital transformation.
Businesswomen’s strong entry and success in these emerging sectors will require expanding their specialisation capacities, and broadening their horizons beyond fashion, design, personal care products, handicrafts, heritage and traditional trade, to new unlimited areas.
By entering emerging sectors, businesswomen will have a special and influential place in the economy of the future.
The third is a significant investment and a prerequisite for achieving the first two. It entails boosting women’s general participation, and in business, within the UAE’s private sector. Doing so, will refine their skills, allow them to gain both local and global expertise from functioning in a market that is driven by innovation and competition. This will play a pivotal role in the setting women up for lifelong success, should they venture into entrepreneurship or business.
More strategic and permanent partnerships
As for personal inputs required by businesswomen, they need to forge more strategic and permanent partnerships with the private sector, which could be forged through cooperation with local and international companies to implement projects and create innovative products. The past two decades have witnessed mergers of many local and global entities and enterprises. These present women entrepreneurs both local and international market access.
These are the key factors that stand out at this stage, and in the context of these factors, there is significant community and government support to women to ensure their socioeconomic empowerment.
Let us invest in enabling this support to reach fullest extent. Let 2021 be a year of choosing to challenge, a year of bigger investments into women’s future ambitions and achievements, and to always set our goals in a way that shape an equitable society and a common future for all.
Sheikha Hind bint Majid Al Qasimi is the Chairperson of Sharjah Business Women Council