World Government Summit: UAE minister calls for more women to hold leadership roles

Ohoud Al Roumi, Minister of State for Government Development and Future, says women continue to be underrepresented

Ohoud Al Roumi, Minister of State for Government Development and Future, says the UAE has increased female representation in government. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The world needs to put in more effort to empower women and give them leadership roles, a UAE minister has told the World Government Summit.

Ohoud Al Roumi, Minister of State for Government Development and Future, said having more women in government could “help build resilient societies”.

She was speaking at the Women in Government Forum on Monday, one of the sessions held before the summit takes place at Expo 2020 Dubai on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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The current pace of progress is simply not enough. We know that at the current pace, it will take another 146 years to achieve gender parity in politics
Ohoud Al Roumi, Minister of State for Government Development and Future

Globally, women continue to be underrepresented in government roles, she said.

“We simply need more women in government leadership all over the world,” said Ms Al Roumi, who is also vice president of the World Government Summit Organisation.

“The current pace of progress is simply not enough. We know that at the current pace, it will take another 146 years to achieve gender parity in politics.

“This is not about gender parity per se. It is about governance and increasing public value. We have evidence that women's leadership is fundamental to governance and building a resilient society.

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“Women bring to the table greater responsiveness, diverse perspectives, co-operative working habits and new types of solutions.”

UN figures show that, as of September 2021, only 10 countries had a female head of state and 13 countries had a woman at the head of their government.

Only 21 per cent of government ministers were women, with 14 countries reporting that women comprised at least 50 per cent of their Cabinets.

Globally, 25 per cent of all national parliamentarians are women — an 11 per cent increase since 1995.

Ms Al Roumi said the UAE has made progress, with the number of women in the Federal National Council increasing from 22 per cent to 50 per cent.

“Female ministers represent 27.5 per cent of the Cabinet, holding strategic positions like space, climate change, advanced technology, education, community development, culture and international co-operation and the future,” she said.

“And we continue to aspire for more. Every society around the world has an equal split of about 50 per cent males to females. This should be reflected in public talks and leadership.”

She said progress was also being made in other parts of the world.

In Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Northern America, women hold more than 30 per cent of parliamentary seats.

Women’s representation was lowest in the Pacific island states, where women hold only 6 per cent of seats.

The forum also highlighted how governments can support women in the technology sector, which continues to be a male-dominated industry worldwide.

Sarah Al Amiri, the UAE's Minister of State for Advanced Technology, said it was important to have women in the technology and science sector.

She said women continued to face barriers in the field, including female entrepreneurs who struggle to find proper support to launch their businesses.

“Entrepreneurship and the creation of businesses are deeply rooted in existing networks, especially if you're talking about finding financial support,” she said.

“It is based entirely on networks, which are shaped by a particular group around the world, and that is what I would call the first barrier.”

Updated: March 28, 2022, 4:27 PM