Thanks to the passionate, brave, and relentless efforts of women worldwide, there has been a transformative shift in favour of gender equality in recent years. Women today have access to great education and employment opportunities, while many have made a name for themselves taking up leadership roles. Women now not only have a say in matters of public interest, but they have evolved into world leaders whose voices truly matter.
But in some nations, the challenges associated with women empowerment remain one of the visible impediments to inclusive equality for women. The more inclusivity and sense of belonging that is rendered out to women, better has been the overall growth of any given nation. History has proved this fact time and time again, with the UAE being a classic example of how this holds true.
UAE: A Step Ahead
The UAE has unwaveringly championed for the rights of women for decades. Efforts put in by our wise leadership towards women empowerment have seen women actively participating in all sectors, and the significant contribution of women is thoroughly encouraged, hailed and applauded. Through education, the UAE has left no stone unturned to nurture and empower young minds to actively partake in all programmes that support national development, and their presence is felt, rightfully so.
The recent landmark legislation substantiating equal pay for men and women in the UAE, as decreed by H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, is not only a reality, but is yet another achievement in the nation’s continuous efforts towards empowering women. As rightly stated by H.H. Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, it is a crucial step in safeguarding gender balance in the UAE. The law not only calls for equal wages to be paid to men and women carrying out the same kind of work, but it also demands more women be employed in the private sector. In a historical milestone, the UAE celebrated International Equal Pay Day for the first time ever on September 18. It is an honour and achievement for activists and advocates whose unfaltering perseverance towards attaining this right is finally seeing the light of day.
Bridging the Gap
Not only is the need for gender equality socially, culturally and ethically essential, it is also economically advantageous. According to a McKinsey report, advancing women equality in the workplace could add $12 trillion to the global GDP by 2025. The report further states that gender-diverse companies financially outperform others by 15%, with ethnically diverse businesses reaching a 35% increase in profits.
Any individual who is appreciated and deservingly rewarded for the work they do will only be more motivated to perform. Companies and organisations need to recognise women leadership and how their opinions can bring about positive reforms. Gender diversity has also been proven to enhance workplace productivity and profitability. Companies need only to allocate equal work and pay opportunities for women, and they will see their bottom-line improve.
Parity of Income
Regarding sustainable growth, the socio-economic status of women needs to improve. Poverty is often directly proportional to low income, and persistent disparity in the wages of women has far-reaching consequences. For single mothers, equal pay would not only mean a better life for the mother, but also for her children, and society, as a whole, will be better off.
According to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, a 16 per cent disparity is still prevalent between the wages of men and women holding the same educational qualifications, who work the same number of hours for the same kind of work, which is alarming. Because of this disparity, when global crises strike, women are always hit harder. For example, as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic, the World Bank has estimated that 150 million people could fall under the poverty line this year, and women, who are generally underpaid, would bear the brunt of this calamity.
What you can do
The sooner we tackle the issue of gender inequality — especially in terms of equal pay and opportunity — the better. Every nation should, therefore, encourage and involve women in the developmental activities of their society, and companies should bring more women leaders onboard. Individually, we all have a role to play to achieve this. We must stay informed on the issue and raise awareness in the home and workplace through healthy discussion and debate. A better future for all is just around the corner. Let’s be part of the change.