Drivers Of Change: Advancing Women's Inclusion In The Economy
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As we gear up for the upcoming Women’s Economic Empowerment Global Summit (WEEGS) running from December 10–11, 2019 in Sharjah, I would like to take a deeper look at the concept of empowerment, and what it entails. This brings to fore several questions: how long will it take to attain this goal, and for how long will the enterprise I lead, NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA), continue along this journey? Also, is there a finish line we need to cross, which will signal the conclusion of our journey?
At NAMA, we believe that empowerment is a way of life; it has no boundaries, no end. It marches on to keep abreast of socioeconomic development, which continues to evolve globally, and is influenced by a whole gamut of factors. Of course, it cannot ever be stopped in its tracks. This is evidenced by the many reports and international studies that call for the need to prepare for any-minute change in economies and societies. This puts in perspective the critical need to shape attitudes, which will embrace lifelong learning and be naturally adaptive to change.
The World Development Report (WDR) 2019, released by World Bank under the title The Changing Nature of Work, states that developing the skillsets of all members of society, especially women, and enabling them in their workplace will protect communities around the world from the negative impact of technology. It is safe to say that the rate at which the digital world is evolving, several workforce skillsets that are relevant and required today will be rendered obsolete tomorrow.
Based on this, we build partnerships that are aligned with the global march towards a just and sustainable future for everyone. We reach out and communicate with women from all walks of society to design and execute women’s economic empowerment programs, which we consider a stepping stone for the creation of equitable opportunities and sustainable partnerships with community.
The wave of economic underperformance and slackening development in some societies has sounded the alarm for several international organizations. If unchecked, the impact of this deceleration will have a cumulative negative impact on both advanced and developing societies, which in turn, will pose a huge hindrance to the timely attainment of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The biggest casualties of underdevelopment are always women, especially in societies plagued with high rates of unemployment and limited resources. They are doubly impacted by disparity within a society, the continuance of which translates into an apparent productivity gap, as well as lack of opportunities for the next generation of both women and men. Societies where women do not enjoy comprehensive empowerment will witness social imbalance, and also pose a risk of sociocultural instability in the long run.
This is a permanent threat to our collective future and to the global socioeconomic fabric, and has been the driving force behind NAMA’s goals and our concerted efforts to establish a strong network of regional and international partners to advance the women’s empowerment agenda. Needless to say, we are also driven by logic. Roughly constituting half the world’s population, women only make up about 48% of the global workforce. Though the rates for their counterparts have also been declining, they are still higher at 75%. The closing of this gap and creating more economic opportunities for women could add up to US$12 trillion by 2025, a McKinsey report has said.
In a few days’ time, WEEGS –a proud product of one of NAMA’s most significant partnerships with UN Women, and the realization of the vision of H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of NAMA– will be held in Sharjah under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.
The purpose of this international summit is to bring our global and regional partners together to find sustainable mechanisms that will have a far-reaching impact on the efforts to push women’s inclusion in the economy. Achieving better results in the field will not only benefit the lives and livelihoods of girls and women, but also have a wide-ranging positive impact on human development, labor markets, productivity, GDP growth, and socioeconomic conditions.
There will also be stability on the social level, because fair and equal partnership forged by all segments of society will ensure a unified outlook towards the future, and will lead to greater cooperation and collaboration to tackle obstacles that come in the way. In conclusion, success in empowering women is not limited to equipping women with knowledge and skills, but also encompasses changing the views of society, its institutions, and the underlying culture to instead embrace diversity as a norm and a necessity for comprehensive and sustainable development.