Dubai: Participants pledging to support women in government heralded the Pre-World Government Summit session which saw female ministers sharing success stories in the UAE and calling for more global action and support for women in government.
Influential and inspiring women from around the world on Monday joined the World Government Summit (WGS), sharing insights at the ‘Women in Government Forum.’
Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, Marta Lucía Ramírez, Vice President of Colombia and María Juliana Ruiz, First Lady of Colombia were among the speakers joined by ministers, mayors and other women holding top public leadership roles to take part in the Forum.
Ohoud Al Roumi, UAE Minister of State for Government Development and the Future and Vice-Chair of the World Government Summit Organisation, opened the Forum by speaking at a session named ‘Women in Government: Shaping a Better Future for the world.’
The World summit being held from March 29-30 at Expo 2020 Dubai, draws the participation of high-level government officials, senior representatives of international organisations, private sector leaders, thinkers, opinion makers, futurists, and experts from around the world. WGS2022 will host more than 4,000 participants from 190 countries. The selection of themes, sessions, and events for this year’s edition reflects the keenness to create future opportunities and assist governments worldwide, which have borne the brunt of COVID-19, in accelerating the post-pandemic recovery.
“We simply cannot have a conversation about shaping a better future for the world without placing women at the centre of this conversation. We must advance the global dialogue and action on this front … and this forum offers an opportunity to do that. We simply need more women in government leadership all over the world,” Al Roumi said.
Citing that the reasons are many, she said the dialogue should be expedited on involvement, contribution and progress of women in government and what we can do today to set the roadmap for tomorrow for more women in public leadership.
Underrepresented in politics
“The current pace of progress is simply not enough. We know that at current pace, it will take another 146 years to achieve gender parity in politics. We know that women continue to be underrepresented in government leadership positions both in number and even more so in rank.”
“Today, women represent only 26.1 per cent of parliament seats, and just 22.6 per cent of ministers worldwide. While women constitute almost 50 per cent of public administrators worldwide, they occupy just 31 per cent of top leadership positions.”
On the positive side, she said, numerous countries around the world are taking major steps towards women empowerment and representation in government.
UAE leading globally
In the UAE, the number of female parliament members has increased from 22 per cent to 50 per cent over the past few years, representing the most improved country globally, Al Roumi explained.
“Female ministers represent 27.5 per of the cabinet, holding strategic portfolios like space, climate change, advanced technology, education, community development, culture, youth, international cooperation, and the future. And we continue to aspire for more.”
Noting that every society around the world has an equal split of around 50 per cent females to males, she said this should be reflected the public jobs and leadership.
“Our collective vision should strive for global impact. Together, women and men, we can build a more inclusive, balanced and sustainable tomorrow.”
She urged the WGS platform to be used to support the next generation of women leaders in public sector.
The minister invited each participant to make a collective pledge to nurture 10 young women in public leadership, to empower, mentor and support them as they navigate their journey in public leadership.
The minister’s call of action was complemented by a special station at WGS where participants could officially make the pledge by scanning a QR code. Several participants were seen taking the pledge online and their pledge along with their names were displayed on a screen.
Diversity and barriers
Sarah Bint Yousef Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology and chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, who was listed among the world’s most influential people by the Time magazine last week, called for more diversity in technology and science.
At another session in the same Forum, Al Amiri also spoke about challenges faced by female entrepreneurs.
“Entrepreneurship and the creation of businesses is deeply rooted in existing networks, especially if you are talking about finding financial support … and know-how … It is based entirely on networks. And as you spoke, those networks are shaped by a particular group around the world…,” she said talking about the barrier faced by women entrepreneurs.
Noting the existence of a stratification, she said there is an underlying bias that is being vocalised at this time.
“And that is a big hindrance that carries on to all sectors. But it will amplify even more when it carries on to science and tech because … it is part of our daily lives.”
Policies with women at core
Speaking at another session, Hessa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, explained how the UAE government ensured a higher participation of women in various sectors with amendments in legislations and policies.
The government allowing women to continue to work from home post COVID-19 lockdowns if they have children aged below 10 attending online classes was cited as an example of working women are supported to balance their work and family. “Now we are understanding the benefits of such very important policies that thrive better,” she said.