Why women in UAE choose family over job
The lack of awareness on existing government legislations was the main reason women stayed home.
Though interested to join the workforce, majority of Emirati women choose to stay home due to family responsibilities and unsuitable working hours, a new report revealed on Monday.
The Dubai Women Establishment (DWE) released the ‘Power of Choice’ report, focusing on providing insights into the factors and challenges that hinder non-working Emirati women from joining the workforce.
Results revealed that although 80 per cent of Emirati women wanted to join the workforce, 42 per cent of respondents said their commitment to children forced them to leave the workplace and 30 per cent attributed unsuitable work hours to their decision to stay home.
The report, which sampled over 2,000 Emirati working and non-working women and men, showed that almost half of respondents staying at home (47 per cent) have Bachelor’s degrees and higher and 80 per cent of them have children.
Results showed that the lack of awareness on existing government legislations was the main reason women stayed home.
Shamsa Saleh, CEO of the Dubai Women Establishment, said despite the government’s numerous female-supporting initiatives in the workplace, the study found some gaps in current legislations that needed to be addressed.
“Although the UAE was among the first countries to introduce childcare centres in offices, majority of places do not implement this,” said Saleh.
She pointed to the 45-day maternity leave in private sector, compared to the government sector’s 90-day leave, which makes many women hesitant to join the private sector.
While Emirati women make up 50 per cent of the society, Saleh highlighted the importance of their participation in the workforce to boost the country’s economy.
The DWE is currently studying global practices to propose alternative work solutions and flexible working hours to the authorities soon, Saleh said.
The study found that majority of the women, who have either never worked or haven’t been active in the workplace for four months, believe there’s shortage of jobs linked to their educational qualifications.
Over half of them (55 per cent) expressed interest in starting their own businesses and 22 per cent are interested in armed forces. A total of 54 per cent believed there’s shortage of part-time jobs, while 58 per cent believe there are not enough private jobs.
During a panel discussion to explore existing policy gaps and legislations, Nasser bin Thani Al Hamli, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, said initiatives that support self-employment of Emirati women are in line with the global shift to freelance work. The ministry introduced initiatives and platforms to link national corporations with individuals who choose to freelance, providing incentives that encourage establishments within the UAE to seek the services of self-employed Emiratis.
“It is important we talk about results. Today, 44 per cent of economic contribution to the UAE comes from women. Women occupy 57 per cent of positions in private sector, 33 per cent of whom hold senior positions, and 66 per cent in the government. These numbers show how important the role of Emirati women is in society,” he said.
Women’s participation in workforce is national duty
Mona Ghanem Al Marrim, vice-president of the UAE Gender Balance Council, cited existing supportive policies to help women achieve work-life balance including the extension of maternity leaves to 90 days in the government sector, providing child care centres, nursing hour policies and the most recent approval of the law on equal wages and salaries between men and women.
She said flexible working hours for women in government are among the most prominent factors that increase employees’ happiness and satisfaction.
Al Marri stressed that work nowadays is a national duty for both men and women to contribute to the UAE economy that continues to thrive in a region marked with political turmoil and unrest.
“Supportive policies and legislations, and numerous governmental initiatives and awareness programmes, have contributed to the pioneering success Emirati women have achieved. It is our duty to give back to this country part of what it has given us,” she said.
Dr Abdulrahman Al Awar, director-general of the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources, said gender pay gaps was never a concern in the UAE Government that emphasised on equal opportunities for men and women.
“There is no difference between men and women in the availability of employment opportunities on a federal level; employees are solely appointed based on merit.”
He added that the UAE also has laws which penalises companies which do not implement equal pay for men and women.
“Introducing and implementing policies that support women in finding a balance between their personal and professional lives is among our top priorities.”
Report finds no patriarchal influence on non-working Emirati women
The Power of Choice report showed limited patriarchal influence in shaping non-working women’s mindsets as respondents predominantly cite themselves as the main drive for this decision. Results showed that 77% of women who seek employment said they play the greatest role in their decision. This is compared to 72%of those who do not seek employment who also marked themselves are having the greatest role in their decision.
Findings showed that both men and deciding women feel that women have much to contribute outside home, but with family responsibilities and unsuitability of working hours, there is clear indication that priorities remain firmly at home.