On February 21st, our associate Dr Heather Jeffrey joined Evolvin’ Women to sit at the table and discuss “Empowering women through education” to explore ways to encourage female students to enter non-traditional professions such as the culinary arts. Let’s sit at the table is a series of 7 roundtables launched in partnership with The Retreat Palm Dubai MGallery by Sofitel in September 2017. The aim of the series is to understand more about best practice when it comes to attaining more women in senior leadership positions within the hospitality industry in the region.

When Evolvin’ Women joined the UN Global Compact and UN WOMEN task-force for women’s empowerment initiatives in the Middle East, they decided to promote the 7 Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) by using them as a frame for the roundtables. If you are not familiar with the Women’s Empowerment Principles, they were developed in collaboration UN Global Compact and UN Women, and are adapted from the Calvert Women’s Principles®. The principles were specifically designed to empower women in the workplace. The seven principles are:

Principle 1: Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality

Principle 2: Treat all women and men fairly at work – respect and support human rights and non-discrimination

Principle 3: Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers

Principle 4: Promote education, training and professional development for women

Principle 5: Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women

Principle 6: Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy

Principle 7: Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality

The panel brought together key stakeholders from the education and hospitality sectors from the United Arab Emirates. However, this certainly appears to be a much wider reaching issue, a recent study estimated that around 80% of head chefs are male in the Republic of Ireland and In the United Kingdom approximately 23% of chefs are female. Many of the ideas emerging from the discussions centered on the availability and presence of role models or mentors, the high school curriculum, and wider stereotypes concerning female domestic labour. In two months’ time, stakeholders will once again sit at the table with Evolvin’ Women to try to develop tangible outcomes focusing on the encouragement of female students to enter non-traditional professions.