Dubai: The second Arab Women Leadership Forum was inaugurated on Tuesday by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Shaikh Mohammad said Arab and Emirati female researchers, academicians and decision-makers should receive support and assistance from governments and decision-makers, in the Arab world, to empower them to achieve their national, social and humanitarian mission without any financial or logistic obstacles.
Speaking at the end of the opening session, Shaikh Mohammad lauded the tireless efforts made by Shaikha Manal Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum — President of Dubai Women Establishment and wife of Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs — for advancing women in the UAE and Arab countries in social and education fields.
The two-day forum was held under the theme, Women's Leadership in organisations: Towards new conceptions of work-life balance.
It explored the obstacles and challenges that working women face while trying to balance work and family.
During the forum, keynote speakers highlighted the importance of childcare centres in the private sector.
"The private sector must take responsibility in providing [this service] ... they should play a role in establishment of childcare services for their employees," Dr Hessa Lootah, Department of Mass Communication, UAE University, said.
According to Dr Hessa, the expense to the employer in setting up these initiatives should be weighed against the long term benefits it provides to female employees.
Currently, private companies are offered basic guidelines by the National Child Care Project (NCC) on how to set up a childcare centre at their premises.
"We aim to complete the initiative in government establishments across the country by 2011, and then we will focus on integrating the private sector into our programme.
"The private companies will then be provided with a business plan and we will give a step-by-step programme in order to ensure its success," Shamsa Saleh, Director of Strategic Planning and Research, Dubai Women Establishment, said.
The first childcare centre was opened at Dubai Customs in 2008. Since then over 160 federal and local departments have joined the initiative.
"More than 70 per cent of women employed at Dubai Customs witnessed a rise in productivity as they did not have to make any personal phone calls to check up on their children," Feryal Tawakul, Executive Director, Community Affairs and Government Partnership Division, Dubai Customs, said.
She added that both female and male employees were satisfied with the childcare centres, which in turn increased loyalty and satisfaction.
With inputs from WAM
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