Emirati women discuss work-life balance.

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Nordic countries are among the world’s pioneers in fostering gender balance in the political and socio-economic spheres.

The Dubai Women Establishment (DWE) in collaboration with the Danish embassy organised “Women in the Workspace: A shared UAE-Nordic Perspective” seminar that saw ambassadors, professionals and young female entrepreneurs from the Nordic countries and the UAE discuss best practices to achieve work-life balance and gender balance in the workplace.

The seminar kicked off with Danish Ambassador to the UAE Franz-Michael Skjold Mellbin holding a dialogue with Mona Al Marri, Chairperson of DWE’s Board of Directors, on the status of women in both the UAE and Nordic countries, discussing gender-friendly policies and legislation that support gender balance in the workplace, as well as the lessons learned and actions derived from the successful Emirati experience in the field of gender balance.

During the seminar, Mona Al Marri praised the cooperation and longstanding friendly relations between the UAE and the Nordic countries, and highlighted that the seminar serves as an ideal platform for knowledge-exchange and enhancing communication between Emirati and Nordic female entrepreneurs, as Nordic countries are among the world’s pioneers in fostering gender balance and encouraging the active participation of women in the political and socio-economic spheres.

She said: “We believe the Nordic experience to be a unique and valuable reference from which we are sure to gain inspiration, in order to achieve our goals here in the UAE to further enhance gender balance on a national level.”

She also elaborated on the various achievements and strides that Emirati women have made in various sectors, due to the support of the UAE’s wise leadership. She also highlighted the numerous opportunities available to further enhance the distinct cooperation between the UAE and Nordic countries in the field of gender balance.

She added that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranked Denmark among the world’s leading countries in terms of equality in income between genders. Similarly, UAE ranked high in equal wage for similar work, and announced in 2018 ‘The Law on Equal Wages and Salaries for Men and Women’.

 “On the political level, the parliamentary representation of women in the Nordic countries is among the highest in the world. For instance, the representation of women in Denmark is at 40%, in Sweden at 46% and in Finland at 47%, while the average global parliamentary representation is at 20%. Political representation is similarly among the priorities in the UAE, as Emirati women’s representation in UAE’s parliamentary body, the Federal National Council (FNC), is currently at 50%, in line with the directives of UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, establishing the UAE as one of the world’s leading countries in female parliamentary representation,” she said.

3 panel discussions and 2 workshops

The seminar comprised of three panel discussions and two interactive workshops that witnessed the participation of the attending Nordic ambassadors. Around 70 high-level officials, entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives within various economic institutions in the UAE, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway.

The first panel discussion, held under the title “Work-Life Balance/Happiness in the Workspace”, addressed the strategies female entrepreneurs may adopt to effectively achieve and maintain work-like balance; the second panel discussion was titled “Strategies for success for young female professionals; and the third and final panel saw ambassadors and executives review the culmination of the key highlights and takeaways from the day’s event.

Reflecting on the significance of the seminar, Franz-Michael Skjold Mellbin said: “We applaud the progress made by the UAE in increasing female participation in the workplace the last years. But much more needs to be done. One of the great success stories of the Nordics is that we mobilised the talent, energy and ambition of women in all spheres of life. By bringing Nordic and UAE leaders together with young Emirati female professionals we hope to build on our shared experience to crystalize specific steps that can inspire individuals, the private sector, and government to move forward.”

 The seminar was attended by Marianne Nissila, the Finnish Ambassador to the UAE; Sten Arne Rosnes, the Norwegian Ambassador to the UAE; Carl Mörner, the Deputy Swedish Ambassador to the UAE; Shamsa Saleh, CEO of DWE; Lamia Abdulaziz Khan, director of Dubai Ladies Club; Sultana Saif, Director of the Women Development Department at DWE; and Maitha Shuaib, DWE’s Director of Corporate Communication.