Man’s progress can be easily delineated through significant moments in time. The printing press, industrial revolution and the Internet are among the most pivotal watershed moments in history that have literally shaped the world’s political economy. While globalization and technology are 21st century buzzwords, one element comprising 50 percent of the world population has emerged as a top contender raring to revolutionize the global business landscape – and that element is women.
The actualization of advancement and development on a national as well as a global scale can only be possible by bridging the gender divide. It is not untrue to say that critical issues of empowerment and disparities stem from a lack of opportunities in terms of education as well as women’s marked absence from formally recognized politico-economic activities of the country. The latter is also a direct consequence of a patriarchal society with its deep-seated familial and communal norms.
Most of those nations exhibiting extreme gender inequalities also suffer economically due to the debilitating influence of the gender power gap. Commenting on World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2014 Global Gender Gap Report, Huffington Post’s Alexander E.M.Hess writes, “The low rates of female literacy in these nations (worst ranking countries) are not just problematic for gender equality, but also for a country’s development, given the critical role the ability to read and write well plays in fostering a skilled workforce.”
With research proclaiming that nearly one billion women will enter the workforce in the next decade, impact is poised to be tremendous. The ‘third billion’ as they are called, is ready to change the market dynamics just as the billion-plus economies of India and China have done so before them. Only those entities – governments, industries and organizations – stand to benefit those who have the vision to genuinely develop as well as utilize this crucial segment of society.
With research proclaiming that nearly 1 billion women will enter the workforce in the next decade, impact is poised to be tremendous. The ‘third billion’ as they are called, is ready to change the market dynamics just as the billion-plus economies of India & China have done so before them.
In this regard, it becomes extremely pertinent to note that ‘leapfrogging’ countries with visionary leadership have taken a lead where others are still contemplating to follow. Surprisingly, nations in the Levant and Arabian Peninsula are witnessing the huge participation by women as far as entrepreneurship and the ICT sector are concerned. That said, much attention is still needed to tap into the large pool of talent which is yet to be fully explored. In an article titled ‘Arab Women’s Tech Advantage,’ Gayle Tzemach Lemmon opines, “Female labor participation rates still hover below 30% in Oman compared to 82% for men, despite the fact that women are rapidly nearing men’s education levels. Still, the Gulf states are far less restrictive.”
Vociferously promoting the cause of women empowerment and encouraging their active participation, the UAE is one such country that has introduced legislations and steps to better integrate women into both the public and private sectors. The country, with its people, and particularly a woman’s position in the Emarati society, has evolved quite rapidly. And this is all due to the government acting as a facilitator for equal access to education, and inspiring the spirit of entrepreneurship, thereby enabling the country’s women population to reach for the skies and beyond.
Sabin Muzaffar Executive Editor – Ananke