‘Gen­der can’t hold you back’

Of­fi­cial says women have op­por­tu­ni­ties

7 Days in Dubai - - NEWS - By Sar­wat Nasir @Sar­watNasir sar­wat@7days.ae

Emi­rati and Arab women must not use their gen­der as an ex­cuse for fail­ing to pur­sue a ca­reer and other goals in life, a UAE of­fi­cial has said.

Dr Aisha bin Bishr, Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Smart Dubai Of­fice, made the com­ments to the au­di­ence at the 18th Global WIL Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Dubai yes­ter­day.

The event, which con­tin­ues to­day at the RitzCal­ton DIFC, is bring­ing to­gether some 500 busi­ness men and women to dis­cuss how eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment of women can be im­proved.

Bishr said the only bar­rier stop­ping Emi­rati women from go­ing af­ter their dreams is “them­selves”.

The con­fer­ence also heard that to­day 70 per cent of grad­u­ates in the UAE are women.

Bishr said: “In my life, I have re­fused to let oth­ers de­fine or plan my path for me.

“I al­ways say that no one will come to groom me. You have to show up and groom your­self. This is my mes­sage to women in our re­gion.

“With faith in your­self, trust in your dreams and com­mit­ment to pur­pose, you would be able to ac­com­plish all that you set your­self to achieve. So many women make ex­cuses for them­selves be­cause of their gen­der – this is es­pe­cially true in our coun­try. And this doesn’t need to be.”

She said to­day there is equal­ity of op­por­tu­nity for all Emi­rati women. She also said 66 per cent of gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees are women.

Bishr con­tin­ued: “I fully be­lieve that the only bar­rier to Emi­rati women pur­su­ing their pur­pose is them­selves.

“And this is right not only for Emi­ratis, but also for women in our re­gion.

“Emi­rati and Arab women need to stand up and stand up high. I am fully con­fi­dent for women to achieve great things.”

That mes­sage res­onated with one Emi­rati, 23-year-old stu­dent Khawla, who vol­un­teers at a so­cial club for older Emi­ratis. She said: “I think it still ex­ists in the older gen­er­a­tion. My mother was not al­lowed to go to school be­cause she had to get mar­ried.”

At the so­cial club, she was “sur­prised be­cause there wasn’t any­one there who got to go to school”. She added: “But now you can see many women with jobs.”

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