Time For Take Off

BY Anna Brady / Dec 22 2016 / 20:10 PM

In the wake of the release of the 2016 Global Gender Gap Report, three working women discuss parity and unexplored opportunities

Time For Take Off
Vivienne Balla

The day before Bazaar gathers three forward-thinking women to tell their story in the shadow of the Four Seasons Private Jet – a vehicle intended to expand horizons – Hillary Clinton loses the US election to Donald Trump. Whether or not this represents a knockback for women, a glass ceiling that failed to be shattered, is open to debate. But it is on the minds of all three, who come together at Al Maktoum International Airport to talk about the triumphs and trials of women working within the UAE today.

The World Economic Forum’s 10th Global Gender Gap Report released in October calculated that women will not reach gender parity with men until 2186, over 60 years later than predicted in 2015. The report judges 144 countries on four standards – health, education, economic opportunity and political empowerment. This year it ranked the UAE 124th, ahead of neighbouring GCC countries such as Saudi Arabia (141th) and Oman (133th).

The GCC region is home to many strong, career-minded and politically engaged women, yet the international perception can be one of oppression. The women Bazaar profiles here want to change that view.

Scroll down to watch our behind the scenes video below:

Noha Hefny

Egyptian, 37, Director of Corporate Affairs at Pepsico

Noha has spent most of her career has been in the humanitarian field with the UNHCR before moving to the UAE and joining PepsiCo. She still supports UNHCR and Girl Rising, a charity promoting girls’ education in developing countries about which she’s passionate. “It’s not the norm for a woman to work as a humanitarian worker, so I had to convince my family. I was lucky, my parents were supportive.” In the corporate world, the challenge is “more about the dynamics of the corporate structure, rising up to be in a leadership position as a woman can be difficult. Being the youngest woman on a team it can be hard to build your credibility, more so than for a man.”

“We are still far from achieving gender parity. The percentage of women in executive roles is very low.”

Noha Hefny

Manar Al Ainai

Emirati, 29, Writer and Communications Consultant

Women here, thinks Manar Al Hinai, “know that the government’s got your back” and the country’s fast-paced development means more career doors have opened for women. “The opportunities are no longer limited to traditional fields such as law or medicine, but have expanded to include aerospace and renewable energy.”

Mana thinks the corporate world lags behind, as women at board level are still rare, “We have a great representation of women in the government sector, but not as much in the private sector.”

Last year the UAE’s Gender Balance Council was established to “oversee the implementation of a gender equality index.” This is having an effect, says Manar, quoting government statistics. “The latest Federal National Council elections witnessed an increase in female representation from 17.5 per cent to 22.5 per cent.”

Manar Al Hinai

Lamia Abdulaziz Khan

Emirati, 36, Director of Dubai Ladies Club 

“When we represent our country, it’s important to wear our abayas with pride,” says Lamia Abdulaziz Khan. “Behind the abaya, the UAE has some exceptionally talented women; scientists, jet fighters and doctors. Through wearing our national dress, especially outside of the GCC, we are breaking down stereotypes and changing perceptions.”

Emirati women “are more empowered than ever before; better educated than ever before; and now have the opportunity to showcase their capabilities on an international level, helping to break down stereotypes about Arab women.”

Emirati women today constitute of 66 per cent of the government sector and 30 per cent in decision-making positions. “The UAE has also become the first Arab nation to require a representation of women on boards of directors in the public and private sector, establish a Gender Balance Council and elect a female as speaker of a national council,” she says referring to Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi, speaker of the UAE Federal National Council.

Now it is time for women to challenge themselves by pursuing influential positions traditionally occupied by men in such fields as aerospace, science, technology and engineering. 

Lamia Abdulaziz Khan 

Read The Full Story In Harper's Bazaar Arabia, December Edition 

Photography By: Vivienne Balla. Make-Up: Nina Ubhi. Hair: Marquee. Fashion Assistant: Samah Elmeri. Shot On Location At DC Aviation Al-Futtaim Featuring The Four Seasons Private Jet

For more information visit Privatejet.fourseasons.com