Roundtable discussion on Women in the Economy in France and in the United Arab Emirates

On 3 June, 2015, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, opened a Round-Table discussion on “Women in the Economy in France and in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)”.

The event was held as a joint initiative by the French Business Council of Dubai and Northern Emirates and the Dubai Business Women Council. It was organized at UNESCO Headquarters with support from the Delegation of Palau and the Delegation of France.

In her intervention, the Director-General highlighted the importance of gender equality as it supports women in business and in sustainable development.

“Gender equality must stand at the heart of the post-2015 agenda – as a fundamental human right, as a game-changer for all societies. This message is especially important now, as we mark the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. I had the honour of being in Beijing in 1995, and I recall the energy of that moment – we must renew with this spirit.”

Women entrepreneurs and executives from the UAE and France participated in the Round-Table, comprising two sessions, to discuss gender disparities in business with respect to the Middle East and France.

The first panel discussion focused on "The changing role of women in France and in the UAE,” and included a presentation by Dr. Raja Al Gurg, President of Dubai Business Women Council, Managing Director of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group LLC (ESAG). Dr. Al Gurg spoke about the support she received from her family to continue her education and mentioned that, for the UAE, a country established 40 years ago, the government has provided funding and encouragement for women, especially in education, which has led to many accomplishments by women in all sectors.

The second panel focused on, "Women empowerment programs in corporates in France and in the UAE.” Director of UNESCO’s Gender Equality Division, Saniye Gülser Corat made the opening remarks and commended the panelists for speaking candidly about their experiences in their respective countries which helped shatter the misconceptions about gender disparities in various countries like the Middle East and France. Ms. Corat further commented that although the stories of success highlighted during the discussions were inspiring and exemplary, there is still much work that is need to be done to achieve the goal of gender equality.

“70% of the world’s poor as well as the two-thirds of the world’s adult illiterates are women and there is no country in the world that has achieved full equality of rights for both women and men. So, until that day has come, we must support women’s empowerment programs and advocate for gender equality. Education is the key to enable that change and UNESCO is fully committed to promote gender equality in all its domains and especially in education.”

UNESCO implements a range of projects and programs to promote gender equality and as gender equality continues to be a top priority for UNESCO, the organization is looking forward to more collaborative dialogue with all stakeholders, including the private sector and business women and men.