Mona Al Marri (left), the Council's Vice President, and Professor Klaus Shwab, founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum in Geneva earlier this month Image Credit: Supplied

Geneva: Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, wife of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, confirmed that the Council is currently working in cooperation with a number of international strategic partners, on several new projects and initiatives that will enhance the UAE’s global competitiveness in terms of gender balance.

Additionally, it will achieve further progress in the file at regional and global levels by identifying appropriate solutions to overcome current challenges – within the UAE’s consistent approach to supporting international efforts aimed at achieving the sustainable development goals 2030.

Sheikha Manal noted that ‘The 2026 UAE Gender Balance Strategy’ focuses on mainstreaming the gender perspective at the level of government and the UAE private sector. The strategy also focuses on strengthening global partnerships and exchanging experiences and expertise to ensure the application of best practices.

She praised the strategic partnership between the UAE Gender Balance Council and the World Economic Forum, which aims to promote gender balance and empower women in various fields at the regional and global levels. The Council and the World Economic Forum are exploring ways to collaborate to advance gender balance in the region, including through cross-government engagement and with key leaders in the private sector.

Sheikha Manal added that the council in cooperation with various ministries and all state agencies and through fruitful partnership with the UAE private sector, continues its efforts to bridge the gaps in gender balance in all sectors, thus contributing to the realisation of the vision of our wise leadership, for the UAE to be the best country in the world by 2071.

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Global meet

The UAE Gender Balance Council (UAE GBC) participated in the Growth Summit held at the World Economic Forum’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 2 and 3 under the slogan ‘Jobs and Opportunities for All’, with the aim of enhancing future opportunities and addressing current challenges through cooperation and innovation through three main pillars: enabling resilient growth, developing human capital by investing in education, skills and health, and accelerating economic equity by enabling a just green transition and advancement and advanced gender balance.

The Council’s participation in the global Growth Summit comes within the framework of the directives of Sheikha Manal to build and strengthen global partnerships with countries and international organisations with distinguished experience in gender policies. In light of the success and achievements of the UAE, it has become a role model for gender balance thanks to the unwavering support and guidance provided by the wise leadership and their keenness to provide the appropriate means for the success of all job levels and enhance their representation in leadership positions.

Since its founding in 2015, the UAE GBC has become a regional pioneer in gender balance by launching numerous innovative projects and initiatives to enhance gender balance and further the Council’s objectives of narrowing the gender gap across all sectors, as well as strengthening the UAE’s competitiveness globally and realising the UAE’s vision. Additionally, the UAE Government is working to review why and where gender gaps exist and to utilise data to design progressive initiatives.

Knowledge partnership

Mona Al Marri, Vice President of the UAE GBC and a member of the Global Future Council for the Care Economy, participated in several key sessions within the summit, which was held in the presence and participation of over 450 members and partners of the Forum, government officials, representatives, leaders and academics.

During her meeting with Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, Al Marri discussed areas of future cooperation and potential projects to enhance the role of women and the advancement of gender balance in the region in light of the knowledge partnership agreement signed by the World Economic Forum and the UAE Gender Balance Council during the annual meetings of the Forum in Davos last January.

She focused on the unique partnership between the government and international organisations and the private sector in the UAE in order to achieve the UAE’s goals.

“Our model of sitting at the table with our partners, as equals, and discussing the challenges in an honest and open way, is why we have been successful in writing policy and programmes that are effective,” Al Marri said. She stressed that these common visions contribute to the reduction of the economic gap between genders and opens horizons for women’s access to economic opportunities.

Al Marri participated in the sessions ‘Gender Parity: 50-50 by 2050?’ and ‘Gender Parity Consortium Meeting’ within the activities of the Growth Summit, which dealt with the foundations of flexible and fair growth that guarantees women better economic participation.

She also participated as a speaker in the ‘Building the $11 Trillion Care Economy’ session alongside Howard Catton, CEO, International Council of Nurses, Nicole Monson, Senior Vice-President, Equity and Engagement, The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc. and Annika Freyer, CEO, Champions of Change Coalition, where she discussed the astounding strides that the UAE has achieved in narrowing gender gaps which have all been accomplished due to the unwavering support of the UAE’s wise leadership.

Al Marri said: “The UAE has made remarkable strides in closing gender gaps, in an incredibly short amount of time. Still, we have challenges which impact women’s economic prospects and sheds light on the gaps in care infrastructure. Intentionally or not, this leads to continued gender gaps and stereotypes. The UAE is focusing on developing its care infrastructure and investing in its workforce development to meet the growing demand for care services.”

The participation of Al Marri in the various activities at the Growth Summit represented an ideal opportunity to highlight all of the successes of the Emirati experience in gender balance which is possible through the unwavering support from the wise leadership since the founding of the UAE in 1971.

Al Marri stressed that Sheikha Manal praised the UAE’s visionary leadership for their unwavering support for women across all fields, reflected in recent legislative reforms, initiatives, and policies that work towards increasing gender balance and ensuring women’s equal contribution to the nation’s development.

The Growth Summit also discussed the importance of investing in skills in both developed and emerging economies in order to build and enhance competitiveness and prepare people for future jobs, as this is one of the main elements of future growth. Experts exchanged views on how countries can attract these skills, as expectations that the supply of internationally mobile talent will reach an all-time high by 2040, when the working-age population will increase by 700 million, and most of this growth will be concentrated in Africa and South America.

Huge gap

The Growth Summit, organised by the World Economic Forum, discusses the positive economic and social results of reducing the gender gap; with a focus on the role of the private sector in achieving further progress. A report published by the World Economic Forum mentioned that with the current slow rates in the gender balance would take more than 150 years to close the global economic gender gap. These reports also mentioned that the world is currently losing about $12 trillion of global GDP as a result of continued inequality, and that is why it is not possible to wait for another 150 years to close the economic gender gaps.

The Growth Summit also discussed the importance of investing in skills in both developed and emerging economies in order to build and enhance competitiveness and prepare people for future jobs, as this is one of the main elements of future growth. Most important for meeting these future challenges will be the closing of gender gaps and the advancement of women’s economic empowerment.