Women and Emiratisation in the UAE Workforce
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which was adopted in 1979, and the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action have generated global and regional momentum in the advance of equal gender opportunities. This research explores the increased presence of women in higher education and their subsequent entry into the workforce in the United Arab Emirates. The government has attempted to reduce its citizens’ dependency on public sector employment and promote opportunities in the private sector. Governmental efforts have included improving the education system, granting women access to education and introducing funding schemes to encourage employment initiatives. Yet, despite these efforts, unemployment across the UAE remains at a high level, with public sector favoured by Emirati nationals. The country’s drive to nationalise the labour force reflects the necessity of utilising the capabilities of Emirati nationals, both men and women, to diversify the rentier state economy. Emiratisation is a national government strategy in the United Arab Emirates that aims to reduce the country’s reliance on expatriate labour and increase the participation of nationals in the labour market, both in the public and private sectors. The research for this thesis begins by exploring the inadequacy of classical rentier state theory and examining Mathew Gray’s theory of late rentierism within the context of the United Arab Emirates. It further builds on the late rentierism model with a particular focus on the role of women, education and youth participation. The methodological approach used in this research is primarily qualitative, including interviews with final year university students, and professionals in the banking sector of both sexes. These groups were chosen to highlight the practical implications of governmental Emiratisation policies aiming to increase job opportunities across the United Arab Emirates. To date, very little research has been conducted on the issues of gender, work life balance policies and new workforce trends in the UAE.