Ivanka Trump, advisor to the United States President, today lauded UAE leadership’s efforts to close the gender gap and added that continuing to empower women across the UAE and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region could add billions of dollars to global growth by promoting gender equality.
Ivanka, who was speaking at the Global Women’s Forum Dubai 2020, said that advancing women’s equality in the MENA region has a potential to add US$600 billion to the global annual gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025. “The number represents far more than economic boom… This is the future that we must achieve together.”
She thanked His Highness Sheikh Mohammed for his “commitment to advancing women’s economic participation across Dubai and the broader United Arab Emirates,” and commended Emirati leaders for “removing barriers to women joining the workforce and developing a national strategy that recognises that women are central to sustainable growth.”
Ivanka also spoke about the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) of which UAE and US are founding members and said that since the launch of the initiative two years ago, both nations were able to mobilise US$2.6 billion of both public and private sector funding that invest in more than 100,000 women on businesses in developing countries. We-FI works to help women who are facing financial and non-financial constraints when setting up a business in the developing world.
Apart from Ivanka, David Malpass, President of the World Bank Group, also spoke at the event and said, “We estimate that in MENA, increasing female labour-force participation to the levels of men could boost regional GDP by 47 per cent. Currently, $575 billion in regional income is lost because of gender-based discrimination in laws, social norms and practices that constrain women’s rights and opportunities. Fortunately, more countries recognise that their economies can only reach their full potential with the full participation of both women and men.”
Malpass spoke about The World Bank’s Women, Business, and the Law report, which tracks eight indicators for women – from entering the workforce to living in retirement – across 190 economies. According to him, MENA has historically been at the lower end of the index with the lowest average score, however this year, the region has made the most progress. “Jordan, Lebanon, Algeria and Bahrain made a number of reforms. The UAE and Saudi Arabia, in particular, made the most reforms. Since 2015, the UAE has pushed for legislative reforms, including equal pay and female representation in corporate boardrooms. In Saudi Arabia, laws were changed to protect women from employment discrimination and to prohibit employers from dismissing a woman during pregnancy and maternity leave.”