The Glass Ceiling may be a long way from being broken, but some cracks may be starting to appear. Women are becoming increasingly participative in the workforce and establishing their positions, however, female workforce participation continues to remain one of the lowest in the GCC.
According to study conducted in 2016, the female labour participation ratio (FLPR) in Saudi Arabia and Oman is still below 30%. While the remaining countries in the region continue to have an FLPR of lower than 40%. Percentage of women in politics in the region is also at quite a low rate of about 1.7%.
Many efforts are being made, by both public and private sectors across the region, to narrow the gender gap through deliberate policies and commitment from leadership. To increase women’s participation and contribution, it is important that we identify the present challenges and create more inclusive workspaces.
Here are some of the areas companies should focus on in order to reduce the gender gap in their workplaces:
1. Work life balance
One of the main challenges that women face in career progression is the lack of support in managing both their personal and professional lives. Flexibility in work conditions is extremely important to ensure the retention of the female workforce and to cultivate empowering work environments.
2. Investing in skill development
Though more women in the region are enrolled in tertiary education than men, it is not reflected when it comes to employment. This is may be due to either lack of proper career guidance available to women or lack of skills. Increased efforts need to be made in terms of providing the necessary support and developmental opportunities to ensure that women have access to equal growth opportunities.
3. Equality at all levels
None of the initiatives aimed at creating a gender balance could be impactful without building a culture that is inclusive and empowering. Workplaces need to emphasis on promoting diversity, access of opportunities, equality policies and tackling any form of discrimination within the work place.
Women are a vital and under-utilized resource in the developing world. As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, it is important to look at how far we’ve come and how far we yet have to go in terms achieving gender equality and it can only be done through conscious and continuous efforts by all.