Supporting women who work on farms is as important as having women in boardrooms
True meaning of empowerment
Women’s empowerment is an inclusive process that should benefit women at all socioeconomic levels and in all career paths. Women should be supported in all fields, from farms to the boardroom, and everything in between.
Tamkeen, also known as the Young Arab Women Scientists Leadership programme, is a positive example of an initiative that is playing an active role in achieving that goal. As The National reported yesterday, the development programme focuses on supporting female agriculture students to overcome gender-specific challenges and develop their skills. The six-month programme will give women from countries across the region, including the UAE, Oman, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, the opportunity to network and exchange ideas, to grow from farmers or field workers to become researchers, scientists and policymakers.
These initiatives are very important for several reasons. First, the programme focuses on women who choose what is not a very popular field for women and support them in the early stage of their careers. Second, it offers support to women in the rural labour force in countries in this region where agriculture is central to national economies, which will help them contribute in the process of strengthening regional food security.
Increasing the number of women in decision-making positions is important to narrowing the gender gap, as discussed during the 18th Global Women in Leadership Economic Forum this week. It enhances the diversity of insights and opinions and improves the overall management process. But real empowerment is only achieved when all women are encouraged, even in lower-level positions, to contribute to the development of themselves and their career fields and not feel less valued than those who are seen to be on top of the career ladder.
If gender equality means anything at all, it means that both men and women have an equal opportunity to choose a career they like and follow their own dreams.