Empowering UAE women to become architects of the future
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Insights: Empowering UAE women for a transformative AI-driven future

Insights: Empowering UAE women for a transformative AI-driven future

Upskilling Emirati women in AI and related fields will not only equip them with vital tech skills but also open doors to emerging sectors and leadership positions

Kais Zribi, General Manager - MEA, Coursera on Women Empowerment Image supplied

As the UAE solidifies its position as a global leader in technology and innovation, one aspect truly exemplifies the nation’s progress: the incredible transformation of women’s empowerment.

Thanks to the government’s consistent and dedicated efforts towards gender equality, the barriers that once impeded female advancement are now giving way to new opportunities, igniting an unprecedented wave of empowerment.

Throughout history, women in the region faced formidable obstacles and disparities across various sectors. However, today the UAE has come to set an example among its peers in the region by making significant strides in closing the gender gap. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2023, the UAE boasts the highest gender parity in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Building a diverse and inclusive education landscape

While this progress is commendable, there is still work to be done, particularly in preparing women for the AI-driven future. The technological revolution gripping the world of work holds great promise, unlocking new possibilities in sectors such as healthcare, climate science, space, and finance.

However, it also presents challenges, reshaping industries and defining parameters for success, leading to the transformation of traditional roles and higher risks of job displacement and redundancies.

A recent survey revealed that 50 per cent of business leaders in the UAE believe that generative AI will change the required skills for the workforce.

Therefore, as we navigate this pivotal moment in history, it becomes imperative to build a diverse and inclusive education and work landscape. Upskilling women in AI and related fields will not only equip them with vital technical skills but also open doors to emerging sectors and leadership positions.

With AI projected to contribute close to 14 per cent of the UAE’s national GDP by 2030, the country, armed with a strong Artificial Intelligence 2031 strategy and Gender Balance Council Strategy 2026, is witnessing the powerful convergence of gender equality and technological advancement, paving the way for the female talent force to flourish like never before.

UAE women should have early exposure to STEM

However, closing the gender gap goes beyond just imparting technical skills; it is about enabling women to become architects of the future, leaders in emerging sectors, and pioneers in the global AI ecosystem. To achieve this, initiatives such as early exposure to STEM subjects for girls, mentorship programs, and targeted skill development curriculums should be maximised to encourage young women to pursue AI-related careers.

According to a 2022 survey report by 3M, women in the UAE continue to be a source of untapped potential in STEM careers, mainly due to a lack of support. While UNESCO figures state that 61 per cent of UAE graduates in STEM subjects are women, compared to 57 per cent across the rest of the Arab world, concerns have been raised about their under-representation in higher positions.

Empowering women through micro-credentials

A potential solution to this challenge lies in greater accreditation of online learning and industry micro-credentials, which have proven to be real game changers for women over the last few years.

These credentials have not only equipped them with the latest skills and expertise demanded by employers but also served as a pathway to enter traditionally male-dominated industries and positions. By earning micro-credentials in fields such as technology, finance, engineering, and data analytics, women are levelling the playing field and opening doors to lucrative job opportunities.

Moreover, compared to traditional on-campus degrees, micro-credentials are much more affordable, making them accessible to a broader range of women across the socio-economic spectrum. The flexible learning model that underpins micro-credentials allows women to study at their own pace, providing them with more choices to balance work and life effectively.

Since the pandemic, leading companies and industry experts, including Meta, PwC, Salesforce, and SAP, have launched micro-credentials for over 25 digital job roles, showcasing their growing significance not only in the industry but also among the learners’ community.

In fact, 83 per cent of UAE learners believe that in the next five years, skills certifications from tech giants will be just as valued by certain employers as traditional degrees.

A future of inclusivity and innovation

In conclusion, investing in the upskilling of UAE women in the AI era will not only accelerate the nation’s future economic growth and social progress but also contribute to the attainment of its sustainability goals.

As the UAE looks ahead to the next 50 years, the women talent force will undoubtedly continue to shape the AI landscape.

By acknowledging their contributions, addressing gender disparities, and fostering an inclusive environment, the country can remain a global powerhouse, where diversity thrives, and groundbreaking ideas become reality.

Read: Top 5 education solutions that can help you as a professional educator

The writer is the general manager for the Middle East and Africa at Coursera.

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