UAE paper welcomes new Gender Balance Council, says it will narrow the gap for women

ABU DHABI, 12th February, 2015 (WAM) — With four female cabinet ministers, seven female Federal National Council members and many other women in various leadership positions, Sheikh Zayed’s vision of empowering women has been demonstrated at all levels of government, and nowadays, women have the chance to hold key positions in public institutions and play an important role in the decision-making process, commented a local daily.

However, the Abu Dhabi-based newspaper noted in its editorial today that corporate boardrooms have not kept pace. “There are still very few women CEOs, directors and general managers outside of family-owned businesses. Many competent women still struggle to break down the cultural barriers that prevent them getting the recognition – and the position – that they deserve. This is why the new Gender Balance Council is so welcome,” it explained.

Yesterday, the government announced that the new council would ensure that women play a leading role in the country’s development and that Sheikha Manal, President of the Dubai Women’s Establishment, will be its chair. “She has already spoken of the need to recognise that women play a key role in economic development. Clearly then, women must lead companies and boardrooms. How should this change be induced?,” asked the editorial.

One way, it suggested, is to introduce quotas for women’s participation in corporations and government agencies, as the UAE Cabinet announced at the end of 2012. “This is affirmative action, of course, but sometimes it is positive discrimination that forces change. The need to fill the women’s quota will force companies to change. Once some women are in, at senior positions, their very visibility illustrates that they are as good as men. They can then rise up the ladder and reach the level warranted by their talent and ability. The quotas are handy because, as we report in our business section today, women face barriers on their way to the top that never arise for their male counterparts,” it said.

In conclusion the editorial noted that having a good mix of men and women is surely as important for a commercial enterprise as for a government one. “Women make up half the population, they are consumers (some say incorrigible spenders) and often make many of the crucial buying choices for the family. It makes good business sense to have them on board,” it said.