While roughly 45 percent of the workforce in the UAE is female, there are very few women seen in the upper echelons of management. To remedy this, the Cabinet passed a law requiring corporations and government agencies to include women on the boards of directors.
Currently, women hold only 1.5 percent of board positions on companies listed on GCC stock exchanges. The situation in the public sector is better as women constitute 66 percent of the workforce and nearly 30 percent hold senior positions, according to data from the International Labor Organization (ILO) and World Bank.
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The UAE is not the first country to implement quotas for women in management positions. It follows similar moves by Norway, Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, Iceland, Malaysia, and India. In these nations, the laws dictate that boards over a certain size must include a specific percentage of women.
The exact quotas in the UAE have yet to be decided, but women’s activists agree that no matter what, the law is a step in the right decision. It will have the largest effect on the private sector, where women struggle to be promoted.
Interestingly, the decision was announced with a tweet on Twitter by Mohammed bin Rashid, the ruler of Dubai and vice president of the UAE. This use of technology shows the increasing importance of social networking in business and government.
He announced, “Women proved themselves in many workplaces and today we want them to have a strong presence in decision-making positions in our institutions.”
“We have also made a decision to make the representation of women, in all boards of directors of companies & gov. entities, compulsory.”