Women are beginning to play a vital role in GCC businesses – and society’s reaping the benefits.
June 30, 2012 7:03 by Reuters
GCC governments have taken a number of steps to improve this situation. In September 2011, Saudi Arabia announced that women would vote and run in municipal elections – an indication of women’s growing stature in the kingdom and the government’s intention to increase their involvement in the country’s future. Saudi Arabia has also implemented national policies – including a five-year plan, Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) programs, and royal decrees – aimed at introducing women into the labor force.
In July last year, the country introduced female nationalization targets for private companies (in addition to aggregate nationalization quotas, which call for 1.12 million additional jobs for Saudi nationals by 2014).
Qatar is establishing a women’s leadership center to increase the number of women in decision-making positions, along with a program to change public perception of women’s role in the Qatari culture. In Kuwait, the government has amended civil service guidelines to grant more-attractive benefits to women, such as social allowance, maternity leave (two months with full pay and two more with half pay), and the ability to sponsor their spouses, among others.
In the UAE, women participate actively in the political sphere, in bodies such as the Federal National Council, local councils, and as ministers in the federal cabinet and local government bodies, serving as a model for the private sector. However, to achieve the goal of greater employment among national women in the regional workforce, industry cannot wait for governments to impose the change from above.