Theresa May: “We need to change attitudes to ensure that nobody assumes what you can do because of your gender.”
Dubai, UAE; 17 February 2020: It’s important to inspire a new generation of young women to take up leadership positions and encourage a new generation of young men to recognise the talents that women bring to these roles. That is the message from the Right Honourable Theresa May, Member of Parliament and Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK).
May participated in a Youth Circle on the second day of Global Women’s Forum Dubai (GWFD) 2020, alongside Her Excellency Shamma Al Mazrui, UAE Minister of State for Youth Affairs and His Excellency Abdulla Lootah, Director General, Federal Competitiveness & Statistics Authority. They were joined by students from UAE University, New York University Abu Dhabi, and Emirates Diplomatic Academy, who also shared their opinions on gender equality, the implications of quotas, and strategies to narrow gender gaps.
In response to a question about what gender equality means to her, Theresa May, who served as the UK’s second female Prime Minister from July 2016 – 2019, said: “Fundamentally it’s about making sure that women and men have equal opportunities. We need to ensure we have the legislative background that doesn’t discriminate against women, and the support mechanisms in place to enable women to achieve what they want to achieve. It’s also about attitude though – and ensuring that nobody makes an assumption about what you can do because of your gender. When we look at men and women, either of these could be a leader.”
Mrs May identified the underrepresentation of women as one of the key challenges she has faced while working within male-dominated sectors. She said: “It’s difficult when you’re in a meeting room and you’re the only woman. Sometimes nobody wants to listen to you. If you have more women sat around the table, you have a different dynamic. Decisions are also better when they are made by a diverse range of people.”
She also shared her views on the two characteristics that make women strong, effective leaders, saying: “It’s important to highlight that women can be every bit as tough as male leaders, but there are certain things that I think women do more naturally. The first is that they really listen – at the grass roots and on the ground, in an effort to make a difference in people’s lives by understanding what needs to be addressed, which is what political life is all about. I also think women act in a more consensual way, and work to find agreement among people more.”
The Youth Circles initiative is governed by the UAE Federal Youth Authority. It was launched to inspire youth-centric dialogue across a variety of topics, supporting sustainable engagement with young people in order to shape innovative solutions to global challenges.
HE Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui said: “The Youth Circle today was a conversation particularly about women’s role and ability to influence our nation’s progress and our world’s development. We explored several central questions about influence: what does it mean in 2020 to have influence as women in our opportunity to be nation-builders and global citizens? And what is the role of youth in achieving greater gender balance and boosting women’s political leadership?
“The UAE’s Federal Youth Authority hears the voice of youth and we act to infuse it with solutions and solution-makers. Today’s youth circle represented the intersection of a major movement for women’s influence around the world, a major world leader (the Right Honourable Theresa May) and an important conversation with our nation’s most valuable assets: youth.”
During the session, His Excellency Abdulla Lootah, said: “It’s important that we don’t distinguish by gender. Within the workforce, we’re all employees, with a certain role and title, who need to showcase what we can deliver as individuals. I have never been given direction on recruiting female employees – all I know is we need to have the best talent. Women have all my support, as we continue to work towards the nation’s growth and progress under one umbrella.”
The two-day Global Women’s Forum Dubai 2020 was held at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai, UAE, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of Dubai.
The Forum was organised by Dubai Women Establishment, which is led by Her Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council and wife of HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) was formed on 1 January, 1992, by a decree issued by the late Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum to merge Dubai Electricity Company and Dubai Water Department, which had been operating independently before then. Both organisations were established by the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum in 1959. Dubai Government fully supported the Electricity Company and the Water Department to provide Dubai’s citizens and residents with a continuous and reliable supply of electricity and water. Since then, DEWA has made considerable achievements, to be ranked as one of the best utilities in the world. DEWA provides services today to more than 900,000 customers with a happiness rate that reached 95% in 2018.
The UAE, represented by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), has maintained its first global ranking, for the third consecutive year, with scores of 100% in all Getting Electricity indicators in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report. The report measures the ease of doing business in 190 economies around the world. DEWA achieved competitive results in global benchmarking, surpassing the private sector and major European and American utilities in efficiency and reliability. DEWA raised the efficiency of its energy production by using the latest technologies and adopting technological innovations, surpassing European and American utilities, by reducing losses from electricity transmission and distribution networks to 3.3% compared to 6–7% in the US and Europe. DEWA also achieved the lowest customer minutes lost per year (CML) in the world of 2.39 CML compared to 15 minutes in Europe and was also able to reduce water network losses to 6.5% in 2018 compared to 15% in North America, which is one of the best results in the world.