The UAE has been a leader in women’s empowerment in the GCC for many decades. From politics to business, women hold key positions in every field. The nation’s continuing quest for gender equality received another boost with the notification of the government decree mandating equal pay for equal work, eliminating gender pay gaps at a single stroke.
This is a great time for women to live and work in the UAE. Even the decline in hiring following the Covid-19 lockdowns in April 2020 has revived to pre-pandemic levels as per latest data.
So, which career should you choose? We list some top careers for working women in the Emirates that are reflective of its progress on gender issues.
The participation of women in healthcare has come a long way since Dr Zulekha Daud became the nation’s first practising female doctor in 1963. The number of women doctors in the UAE is consistently on an upward curve and they have also played a frontline role during the pandemic. Currently there is a rising need for medical doctors with demand outstripping supply. Dubai’s emergence as a medical tourism hub is also driving this demand.
Before the pandemic, the UAE was experiencing a shortage of teachers due to competition for talent from Asia and Australia. Many UAE schools were struggling to fill vacancies as a result. With schools reopening last month, they are likely to resume their search for qualified teachers. If you are planning to apply, remember that the rules are changing. Teachers must obtain an educational professions license to be eligible for a job from end-2020 onwards.
3. Business and Corporate Sector
Women may have been under-represented in the corporate sector in the past, but that is gradually changing. Business leaders like Raja Easa Al Gurg of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, Renuka Jagtiani of the Landmark Group, and Rania Nashar of Samba Financial Group, are blazing a new trail for women. The equal pay rule is sure to help by encouraging more women to take up corporate jobs. Initiatives like the UAE Gender Balance Council, with its vision of promoting the nation as a model for gender balance, are also playing a crucial role.
4. Public Sector
Public sector jobs are highly popular among women. Women account for 66% of the workforce in the public sector including 30% in senior leadership roles. Besides Emiratis, many government jobs are also open to expats. Bodies like the Dubai Government Media Office, the Dubai Women Establishment, and Dubai Customs accept applications from non-Emiratis for specific vacancies.
5. IT and Computers
Women have outnumbered men undertaking STEM courses for several years now. This is particularly true in IT where nearly eight out of ten students happens to be a woman. The entry of women in what was traditionally a male bastion is changing the tech sector for the better by ushering efficiencies and promoting diverse perspectives. Software engineers, cloud infrastructure specialists, cyber security experts, data analysts and UI/UX experts are some professionals that are currently in high demand.
6. Police and Army
When it comes to women in the armed forces, the UAE has been a trailblazer. The Gulf’s first military school for women, the Khawla Bint Azwar Military School in Abu Dhabi, was set up way back in 1991. Women soldiers in the UAE have been assigned combat, humanitarian, and peacekeeping roles. Among the best-known names is that of Major Mariam al-Mansouri who led UAE’s airstrikes against ISIS over Syria.
Like the armed forces, women are also an integral part of the police force, where they work shoulder-to-shoulder with their male counterparts. UAE started inducting women into the police force way back in 1978 and today, they are represented at all levels. Candidates must be physically fit, possess critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and be strong communicators to be selected for the role. Strong moral fibre and devotion to duty are key attributes that must be present in plenty in each and every law enforcement officer.
Key to Nation’s Development
The UAE offers a plethora of work opportunities for women, supported by an enabling environment and progressive laws. Job seekers can choose from a wide range of career options. The integration of women into the workforce was a key vision of UAE’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who saw it as an integral part of the development of the nation. The dream is being rapidly realised as the UAE races ahead in the 21st century.
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