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Lack of gender friendly legislations stand in the way of achieving gender parity, GWFD hears

Lack of gender friendly legislations stand in the way of achieving gender parity, GWFD hears
  • Panel discusses solutions for addressing gender disparity
  • Lack of legal frameworks, social norms and cultural perceptions among the top challenges

Dubai, UAE; 17 February 2020: One of the biggest challenges to achieving gender parity in the world is the lack of gender friendly legislations and policies that provide women equal opportunities across all sectors, according to speakers at a session on the second day of the Global Women’s Forum Dubai 2020.

The session titled ‘Achieving 2030’s SDG’s: Women’s Engagement’ discussed solutions for addressing the issue of gender disparity.

Panellists participating in the panel discussion, moderated by Hadley Gamble, Anchor, CNBC, mentioned the lack of legal frameworks as well as issues related to social norms and cultural perceptions among the top challenges that are slowing down the journey towards gender parity.

Shamsa Saleh, Secretary General, UAE Gender Balance Council, said: “One of the most important challenges we are facing globally today is the lack of gender friendly legislations and legal frameworks. There needs to be a sort of gender lens on policies across all sectors and all related policies,” she said.

“The other challenge, I believe, is promoting awareness among children starting from early childhood. We need to change the perceptions of children that portray men as employees and women as housewives,” she added.

Echoing a similar opinion, Taline Koranchelian, Deputy Director, Middle East and Central Asia Department, IMF, said: “Job creation for men and women is of utmost importance. There is a need for broader policies to boost growth and job creation as well as provide equal opportunities for education and financial access. Also, additional measures are required to facilitate balance between work and family.”

Zohra Khan, Global Policy Advisor, Governance & National Planning, UN Women, said despite the progress in gender equality across the world, a lot of work remains to be done due to social norms and cultural perceptions. Additionally, violence against women remains evident despite regulations, gender gap in the labour force participation, which remains at 31 per cent, has stagnated over the last two decades. Furthermore, only 26 per cent of Artificial Intelligence and data professionals are women. 

During the session, panellists mentioned the UAE as a shining example for progress towards gender parity.

Abdullah Lootah, Director General of Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority – UAE, highlighted the speed at which the UAE has revised its laws and legislations with regards to gender balance, which helped the UAE rise in global rankings. He mentioned how the UAE has nine women ministers and a female representation of 50 per cent or more in the Federal National Council.

“In the UAE, we don’t have gender bias, we are all working together to achieve one vision,” he said noting that the UAE ranked first in the Arab World and 26th globally in the UNDP 2019 Gender Inequality Index.

Koranchelian pointed out how the IMF works with countries to ensure reforms in favour of women. “We provide policy advice to countries and focus on gender equality issues. We identify gaps in that particular country and provide specific advice on how they can advance and what it means economically to advance on gender issues.”

Panellists also emphasised the importance of partnerships between the private and government sector as well as global partnerships to ensure progress is made.

Saleh said: “When changes are made in policies, we need to ensure it’s changed across the board. For example, with equal wage, we made sure it was implemented across both the private and government sector in the UAE. We had several discussions with the private sector showing them the impact of equal wages in the workplace and how it could increase loyalty, productivity and benefit the business.”

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