Work-life balance is a dichotomy of sorts, really! We live in a world where the demands of work and personal life often collide. This makes finding a harmonious balance a life-long aspiration for women here in the Middle East and around the globe. As we strive to excel in our careers and nurture personal fulfillment, it is crucial that we discover strategies that empower us to thrive in the workplace, too.
Drawing inspiration from trailblazing, influential women leaders and insights from best-selling books, this article dives deep into the art of work-life balance, offering practical advice and actionable insights tailored specifically for women. Prepare to unlock your true potential, embrace harmony, and achieve both professional success and personal fulfillment.
Unveiling the Work-Life Balance Paradigm
Living in Dubai is enjoyable but wrapped in the thread of life that is woven with constant change. New developments, new social clubs, new laws, new startups, new policies…new everything. It’s all about change and how quickly we can adapt.
The change is multidimensional. Women are honored in the same capacity as men, here in Dubai. It is no wonder then, that women in the UAE enjoy the same constitutional rights as men. They have access to education, jobs, social and health benefits, and many hold government positions. The UAE has set special policies, laws, and initiatives to protect women and promote gender equality in all aspects of society.
Work-life balance is no longer an elusive concept but a transformative way of living that allows women to synchronise their personal and professional spheres. For women in the Middle East, who often face unique family-focused challenges and cultural expectations, achieving balance becomes even more crucial for their overall well-being and success.
Emirati women have maintained a remarkable presence in various business sectors; for example, Emirati women make up 64 percent of workers in the education sector, the same percentage of the total doctors, nurses, and technicians in the health sector, and 31 percent of the total workers in the finance, banking, and insurance activities. It is therefore essential to understand that work-life balance is not about splitting time evenly between work and personal life but about integrating the two in a way that empowers women to thrive holistically.
Nurturing Career Growth and Personal Fulfillment
Let’s explore how the UAE enables women in the workplace. A number of factors have been identified to fuel the growth and development of women’s careers in the UAE. These include education availability, government initiatives, gender equality, and job satisfaction, as well as, management styles, leadership mentoring, and promoting positive attitudes towards working women. Moreover, women today are leading and managing key government areas and private sector industries in UAE, and participate in C-level decision-making.
The UAE is considered to be the role model for the empowerment of women across the Gulf countries. In terms of economic and infrastructure development, the UAE is the fastest-growing country in the Arab world and women are playing a crucial role in the country’s economic development. According to the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council, the UAE has been ranked number one among 132 countries in the world with respect to prioritising women and their development. UAE women are getting more freedom as compared to other countries in the Middle East and its women’s participation rate is 59%, which is far ahead of Qatar (36.4%), Bahrain (34.3%), and Saudi Arabia (14.4%).
While these statistics are impressive it is equally important to keep in mind strategies to maintain balance and ensure burnout doesn’t come knocking too early. Here are some of our tips to nurture career growth and enjoy personal fulfillment:
Passion and purpose alignment: To achieve work-life balance, we recommend women align their career choices with their passions and purpose. By pursuing work that aligns with their values and ignites their passions, women can find joy and fulfillment in their professional journey.
Continuous Learning and Growth: Women should always invest in their personal and professional development to enhance their skills and knowledge. This is a no-brainer. However, the important point here is to seek knowledge in many forms – online courses, in-person workshops, or bestselling books – on personal growth and work-life balance to shape your thoughts and navigate your career with confidence. Speaking of bestselling books, we can recommend two of Team Gaggler’s favourites: “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg and “The 4-hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich” by Timothy Ferriss.
Embracing flexibility: We recommend considering jobs with flexible work arrangements that accommodate your personal commitments without compromising career opportunities. This may involve exploring options such as remote work, flexible schedules, or job-sharing arrangements that enable women to balance personal and professional responsibilities, effectively.
Priorities and Time Management: Effective prioritisation and time management are essential for work-life balance. Keep a journal and identify your priorities to manage time efficiently, focusing on activities that contribute more to your goals and overall well-being. We recommend using a journal that is inviting enough for you to feel comfortable to ruthlessly eliminate non-essential tasks and keep you on track.
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Balancing Motherhood and Career
For mothers in the Middle East, achieving work-life balance is an intricate dance that requires specific strategies. Building a strong support network, that includes family, friends, and fellow mothers, can provide invaluable assistance and guidance. As an expatriate, it is important to surround yourself with a community that understands the challenges and offers support that can make balancing motherhood and career more manageable.
In Dubai, life is fast, demanding, and challenging. Effective communication is therefore crucial for promoting work-life balance. Mothers should consider openly discussing their needs, expectations, and boundaries with their employers, colleagues, and family members to ensure understanding and support. Prioritising self-care is vital and taking time for activities that recharge and nurture oneself, such as exercise, meditation, or pursuing hobbies, helps maintain mental and emotional balance, enabling mothers to fulfill their multiple roles, effectively.
Gender equality is of paramount importance in the UAE, and the Constitution of the UAE promotes equal rights for both men and women. Under the Constitution, women enjoy the same legal status, claim to titles, access to education, the right to practice in professions, and much more. Further, In Dubai, women are entitled to 9 weeks maternity leave with full pay, providing a full year of service has been completed. According to a Georgetown University study in 2021, the UAE holds the greatest percentage of women who feel safe in their communities worldwide with 98.5 percent reporting they felt safe. All in all, we’d say work-life balance for women in the UAE is very achievable.
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