Panellists on Thursday morning at the House of Wisdom in Sharjah. Kamal Kassim/Gulf Today
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
Women must take an active stand for the world’s aspirations towards gender equality and inclusion which means they must continually make men aware that their contributions at the home front are also valuable and treasured.
These are among the take-aways from the second roundtable discussion of the NAMA Women Advancement “Connect with Intriqa” held on Thursday morning at the House of Wisdom, the topic of which was “Women in the Workplace: Setting a Roadmap for Gender Equality”.
In her welcome remarks, NAMA director Reem BinKaram said there has yet “a long way to go to reach woman’s full and equal economic inclusion” that calls for continuing joint “regional and global efforts to drastically address the systemic and underlying barriers that have been holding several generations of women from realising their true potentials including at their workplaces.”
She cited records from the “World Bank Business and Law 2022 Report showing that “around 2.4 billion women of working age are not getting equal economic opportunities; 178 countries maintain legal barriers that prevent full economic participation; in 86 countries women face some force of job description, and 95 countries do not guarantee equal pay for equal work.”
BinKaram told Gulf Today the only way to actualise the long-standing ambitions for gender equality when everyone shares equal rights, responsibilities, opportunities and privileges-and gender parity when everyone has the access to the same rights and opportunities-is to keep the discussions going with open minds : “It is important. We do have a lot of efforts happening. This has to be embedded in all public and private (enterprises). We need to shift the mindset and make it happen that (rights and opportunities abound) based on credentials and not by gender,” she said, adding that equal pay for equal work should be the norm over “unfair and unjust payrolls.”
From the panel discussion Predixa Artificial Intelligence-based diagnostics and data-driven analysis growth-strategy advisory company chief executive officer Paula Newby mentioned that according to research, “inclusive culture” whereby everyone gets the privilege of equal treatment and women’s humane-ness, talent and intellect are actively pursued “greatly impacts the top and bottom lines” that lead to “37 per cent more productivity and 15 per cent more profit and who among business leaders do not want that 15 per cent.”
She said the world is in a “perfect storm” driven by three elements namely internal and external stakeholders’ demand consisting primarily of the Millenials and Gen Z, who, alongside consumers and investors, opt to be engaged with companies working towards the everyone’s benefit and good aside from protecting the planet; governments concerned with how they could collectively bring about the fruition of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) curtailed by the third element of economic challenges arising from man-made and natural calamities namely the “COVID-19, the invasion of Ukraine, broken supply chains, high inflation rates, and recession” leaving everyone struggling to cope.
She added that hardly hit by all these is SDG Number 5-Gender Equality and Women Empowerment as 2/3 of women in the world lost their jobs at the height of the recent pandemic alone. She also said that at the World Economic Forum, governments were of the thought that if gender parity exists in all workplaces, then, $23 trillion would be a plus to the global gross domestic product (GDP). She illustrated that India for instance would have its GDP increase at 18 per cent, Nigeria at 29 per cent, and Indonesia at nine per cent.
Asked regarding developments on the UAE side, Bee’ah-Civil & Architectural Projects managing director Nada Taryam was thankful that management and staff have been giving her all the support for her career advancement. She said this is what the world needs, adding that while the UAE government has made a mark in raising and empowering women in leadership both in the public and private arenas, “we are still at the very beginning and we still have much more to do. All of these interim steps have closed the gender gap . The Security and Commission Authority said there needs to be at least one female at the boardroom. So they mandated that. I believe that legislations are important and are considered. We need substantive growth in that in order to see future gender equality.”
MBC Group-Employee Engagement manager Bedriya Alsaeed and Accenture Middle East-Growth Markets managing director Carlina Marani happily contributed that they have supportive husbands who equally share household and parental responsibilities and so they have flourished in their respective careers. The latter advised at one point that women must “carefully choose their spouses,” following a comment from audience-certified coach and corporate trainer Joanna Rizou that as “responsible women,” women should look within themselves, “able to respond accordingly to situations to the best of their ability.” Alsaeed defined gender equality as the presence and the respect of one’s uniqueness and individuality. Marani said it means that “there is no more problem to solve.”