Oil and gas is the sector that could lead the change to increasing female participation in the workforce, said the author of a new report launched on Saturday February 17th, 2018. The report themed “Energy: Driving force behind increasing female participation in the Gulf” was launched at the Canadian embassy in Abu Dhabi.
The report is the result of collaboration between the Royal Bank of Canada Capital Markets and the Atlantic Council’s global Energy Center. The report’s author, Bina Hussein, was at the launch to discuss the report.
The Canadian embassy is proud to launch the report on promoting women’s economic empowerment and participation; this according to Aliya Mawani, head of the embassy’s political and economic section speaking to Arab News.
The report also covers Qatar, the UAE, and Kuwait. Asked why Oman and Bahrain are not included, Hussein said countries were chosen on the basis of proven oil reserves as major catalysts to societal change.
Khlood A. Aldukheil, a well-known figure in the financial community in the region served as the moderator. She is the managing director of the Aldukheil Financial Group and the first Saudi woman to attain a CFA designation.
Talking about her report, Hussein noted that energy is such an integral part of these gulf economies that it has become part of their diversification process. She observed that if there is any sector that could take the lead in increasing female participation in the workforce, then the oil and gas sector is the right one to achieve that feat.
Hussein is optimistic that with reform plans already in place, the governments of the selected GCC countries are attempting to bring about similar changes in their economics, without necessarily decreasing the governments influence, or stake in the economies, all this while keeping the culture and traditions intact.
The report notes the progress in the emirates in expanding women’s rights in recent years and that statistically, women tend to be better educated than men. During the question and answer session, it was agreed that the focus should not be just on getting more women into the energy sector, but also into leadership positions of influence in the sector.
Princess Madawi Bint Fahad Alfarhan Al-Saud, honorary president of Nafeh Charitable Society, said, “we have to bear in mind that many Saudi women have worked in the engineering sector for several years and some of them worked in jobs not available to men.” Al-Saud also noted that Saudi’s Vision 2030 plan has made the legal systems safer for Saudi women to work in the energy sector.
Nujood k. Almulla, a 24 year old mechanical engineer opined that the report on the role of women in the energy sector is both critical and timely, given the present circumstances in the gulf countries.
Almulla said she feels fulfilled in working as an energy systems analyst at the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Saudi Arabia given the fact that the energy sector is the backbone of the economy.