The State of Qatar is committed to empowering women and achieving social justice for them in all aspects of life. Women in the Qatari culture, which derives its customs from the Islamic religion of the country, have a unique position in society. Their vital role as mothers and all the other parts they play makes them the cornerstone of society. By respecting, appreciating, and giving them this high status, a society can progress and thrive.
The State of Qatar, represented by its various institutions, works to empower women on the social, economic, health, and psychological levels. Qatar offers women the opportunity to pursue their education and career goals while maintaining their psychological, social, and healthy balance in light of the psychological and social issues women face worldwide.
Women's educational empowerment is one of the issues that the Qatari government believes in and has been supporting through its different national institutions. The establishment of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development (QF) under the leadership of HH Sheikha Moza was one of the most significant achievements that raised the value and status of science and education in the Qatari society. QF established the Education City that hosts prestigious educational institutions from around the world, local universities, and various research, educational, and community centers. Consequently, the presence of the Education City has positively impacted women's education, as the percentage of women reached 67.5% of university graduates in Qatar, which is higher than the global average.
Besides taking care of women's education inside Qatar, Qatar Foundation has sponsored many scientific initiatives and programs aimed at empowering women in the Arab world and globally. One of these initiatives is the Women in Conflict Zones (WCIZ) initiative, which was launched by Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) to empower women and girls in conflict-affected, poverty-stricken, and war-torn societies and to inspire them to make positive changes in their countries.
In addition to the above, the country has also paid great attention to women previously deprived of education and opened the doors for them to join literacy schools. According to the report issued by the Planning and Statistics Authority, the enrollment rate of women reached more than 70% of all students who enrolled in literacy programs. The illiteracy rate among women in 2019 reached 0.7% of all women over the age of 15 and 0.1% of all young women between the ages of 15-24, which are very low rates indicating the State's interest in education and the provision of education to all social segments and layers.
Women in the Labor Market
One of the main pillars for the success of Qatar National Vision (QNV) 2030 is social development and women's capacity building in different life aspects, including their participation in the labor market and their contribution to economic and political decision-making. The vision has given great attention to women's empowerment, capacity building, and the right to enter the labor market.
Part of the facilitations that Qatar offers women who decide to enter the labor market is having the Qatari law guarantee offering appropriate conditions for women to help them achieve a balance between work and family. Those facilitations include high-quality childcare services, flexible working hours, the possibility of working from home, paid maternity leave, hours of breastfeeding, and consideration of the humanitarian situation of women who have jobs and take care of children with disabilities. A national committee was formed to follow up on the affairs of women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, pursuant to the Cabinet's Resolution No. (26) of 2019. One of the functions of this committee is to monitor the conditions of women’s rights and study the legislation related to them.
The facilitations were reflected on the ground, as Qatari women play prominent roles in the country and compete for the highest administrative and scientific positions, including ministers, ambassadors, and managers of public and private institutions. In addition, Qatari women have held positions in the court system, and a Qatari woman was appointed as the first female prosecutor in the region in a precedent that was considered the first of its kind. In sum, the participation rate of Qatari women in the labor force has reached 37% of women at the age of (25-29 years) and is close to 49% for the age group (30-34 years).
Women's Career - Psychosocial Balance
The State of Qatar is committed to empowering women not only on the educational and career level but also to taking care of their psychosocial life. In addition to their essential roles on the scientific and economic levels, women have critical roles in their families as mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters. Without being committed to these roles, a society cannot progress and prosper. Being dedicated to these roles strengthens families and bolsters their connections, which necessarily reflects on the strength and close-knit of society.
Therefore, Qatar has provided many ways to help women balance work and family, including the following:
- Enabling the part-time system in government entities as per the Cabinet's Resolution No. (13) of 2021, prioritizing women, especially those who have children. This decision comes within the framework of the State's belief in the importance of career-psychosocial balance for women, as part-time work gives them extra time for their children and family tasks.
- Giving social and psychological support services that help women deal with the stresses of life, including the national mental health helpline and mental health services provided by Hamad Hospital and Sidra Hospital for Women, such as perinatal services.
- Establishment of the Doha International Family Institute (DIFI), which is concerned with family issues, including putting the matter of family and work balance on the top of the policymakers' agenda, which is done through supporting policies and communicating at the national, regional, and international levels, holding the annual family policy forum, and other initiatives, including the OSRA research grant in cooperation with the Qatar National Research Fund.
The State of Qatar has a health system that operates at the highest international health standards in various medical fields serving women and men. Since women bear the responsibility of pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and the accompanying psychological burdens, Qatar has paid special attention to women's health and created specialized care for them during pregnancy. For example, The country took care of providing high-quality care for mothers and their babies from the beginning of pregnancy until after birth, including not only receiving the necessary medical care for the mother and the child but also raising the awareness of mothers and educating them on how to deal with the new stage of their life and how to find the right balance between family, caring for the child and their professional and career lives.
In addition to the above, Sidra Medicine also offers specialized psychological and mental health care for women to improve their quality of life and care for their psychology. Research is also sponsored by Sidra Medicine on mother and child health, and international conferences are held on women's health and wellness.
In conclusion, social development and human capacity building are among the most important pillars of QNV 2030. The State believes that the way to create a society based on social and economic justice, with Islamic values and family ties constituting the mainstay, is to mobilize the collective energies of all members of society and direct them in a way that makes the Qatari person, whether he or she is a male or female, able to take an active part in the social, economic, and political life of the country.
QNV 2030 focused on the role of close-knit families in society's development. Therefore, the State's strategic goal is to provide care to women to help them improve themselves, whether on the educational or professional level. Supporting their rights and protecting them at various levels makes society more robust and capable of achieving its vision, which seeks to build an educated, physically, and psychologically healthy population that can work efficiently and ethically.
Tell us what you think of the steps that the State of Qatar has taken to empower women, and do you think other measures can be taken to help women reach the career-family balance?