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UAE’s weaker sex

UAE’s weaker sex

Gender inequality in the Emirates is high, and women lack economic opportunities, according to a recent report by the World Economic Forum.

November 9, 2009 12:16 by

A recent episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show featured a small segment on Dubai, where a mother of four from the city, Lamees Hamdan, described how wonderful the city was. The government provides free water, electricity and healthcare to all its citizens, she said.

And women in the UAE have a lot in common with others around the world. “We’re all working moms. We all have the same priorities. We all face the same challenges,” Hamdan said on the show.

While she came under criticism from Dubai residents for ‘falsely depicting a rosy Dubai’, her description of women’s conditions in the country may also be inaccurate.

According to the Gender Gap Index report released by the World Economic Forum late last month, the UAE ranked 112th this year out of 134 countries, seven positions lower than its place in 2008.

The report blamed the drop on two reasons: “There are fewer women who are professional and technical workers (from 25 percent in 2008 to 21 percent in 2009) and the tertiary education enrolment rate of women dropped from 37 percent to 35 percent,” it said.

The index measures the gender inequality gap in four areas, including economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment, and health and survival.

“Girls and women make up one half of the world’s population and without their engagement, empowerment and contribution, we cannot hope to achieve a rapid economic recovery nor effectively tackle global challenges such as climate change, food security and conflict,” Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum said in the report.

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