GRM 2010 GRM 2011

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In the very beginning of this 21st century, the UN Millennium Declaration was adopted with the signatures of 192 Heads of the nations of world in the year 2000. Eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were identified to be achieved in this declaration by year 2015 with the hope that they will bring progress and prosperity to the developing nations by reducing poverty, hunger and disease and providing universal access to health care and education, with emphasis on gender equality and empowerment of women. After a decade of this ‘Declaration’, the UN has listed Oman on number one position among 135 countries in the areas of human development in the year 2010. A country’s level of development is influenced by a number of interrelated factors. While it is difficult to separate these factors, they can be broken down into five major categories: historical, political, economic, social and environmental. This paper will be focusing on economic aspect of the development of the Omani nation and the particular role played by women in this process as well as the unequal outcomes for women with the opportunity of equal access to every sphere of development.
The main challenge facing the GCC States in present times in economic sphere is that there is a dire need to ensure educational excellence and to equip its youth with needed skills, enabling them to find gainful employment in an increasingly integrated and competitive global economy and Oman is no exception to this. The present data shows that female labour participation rate across the states stands at 27% and Omani female labour force stands for 25%. This low rate is not due to their level of education. This can be either due to the social customs or disability of the governments to prepare their women or due to lack of interest from women themselves or the disability of educational system to provide technical and professional education up to the requirements but whatever the case may be this untapped potential of educated women is a huge loss to the economy and the society especially at present time when localization process has been given a lot of weightage to lessen the dependency on foreign labour force.
However, it is not a complete grey situation as on a positive note, female labour participation in Oman jumped from 17.6 % in 2000 to 25% in 2010. This growth cannot be neglected because it shows that things are steadily changing on a slow pace for women and there is no stagnancy in it. Apart from the employment sector, considering the high unemployment rate and the difficulties in job market many wealthy women from all over GCC are newly investing their money in the entrepreneurial sections. There are several positive reviews on strong business ladies in Oman. Moreover, women in Oman are preparing themselves more in technical and professional fields and they are also infiltrating in the domains that were highly dominated by males in the past including engineering, software technologies, media, academia, and to a less extent in police and armed forces too.
It somehow suggests that though horizontal expansion of women’s struggles have been achieved to certain extent and it is still improving day by day but as of vertical expansion is considered into leading positions and for the leadership roles, women are still lagging far behind. Though efforts are being made by Omani women to prepare themselves for the leadership roles as well but it requires multi layered policies rooting from ground levels of mindset change through education and awareness and then the talent management and skills to develop in women to make them prepared for wider and challenging roles and finally with the vision of government to diversify and tap the potential of women of their nation.
But as of now, there is still prevailing sense of what Zoya Hasan has called it to be ‘Unequal Citizens’ among Omani women because there are tribal and cultural stigmas attached with certain professions and careers of women and also to the accepted identities of Omani women. Moreover, human development means multifaceted development so even if women are progressing in employment sector or economic fields in Oman, is this progress leading to their development in other fields like political progress or individual identity based empowerment of Omani women? When compare to political domain, Omani women have gone to much farther extent in economic spheres but can this progress considered to be ideal compared to the international standards? Are the women being underestimated or discriminated in Oman despite striving to do their best? What are the hindrances or challenges women are facing in being employed? These are some questions which would be dealt in this study and doing so this paper will be divided in two parts (A) brief out sketch of Omani women’s background preparation to join the employment sector (B) challenges faced by Omani women in economic development process and possible solutions to the problems.