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  • Women are particularly vulnerable to being displaced by technology in industry and lack access to the digital skills needed
  • Working group discussed ways to address the manufacturing sector’s gender gap, potential policy measures and practices to further increase women’s participation
  • Action points devised to provide a future workplan of activities, programmes and outcomes to be realised by the working group
  • Close to 100 global leaders join the #GMIS2020 Virtual Summit on September 4-5, 2020

 Hannover, Germany – September 4, 2020: The Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) today held a working group alongside the first day of the #GMIS2020 Virtual Summit, gathering a cross-section of experts from world-leading organisations to discuss ways to promote a gender-responsive and inclusive manufacturing sector.

Evidence suggests that the developments seen across the manufacturing sector, and driven by fourth industrial revolution technologies, disproportionately benefit men in comparison to women, primarily because the jobs that women do are more densely concentrated in sectors that are more susceptible to automation. However, important strides have recently been made to encourage more women to pursue an education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields - qualifications which provide a pathway to a career in manufacturing where technology skills are becoming increasingly important. It is now critical that these positive developments translate to a more gender-diverse workforce in the manufacturing sector.

Participants in the virtual working group included Loubna Bouarfa, CEO, OKRA Technologies, Ismail Abdulla, CEO, Strata Manufacturing, Professor Sirin Tekinay, Dean of Engineering, American University of Sharjah, Dr. Alina Sorgner, Assistant Professor of Applied Data Analytics in the Department of Business Administration, John Cabot University, and Hiroshi Kuniyoshi, Deputy Director General, and Managing Director, External Relations and Policy Research, UNIDO.

Loubna Bouarfa, CEO, OKRA Technologies said: “In the new digital age, the rapid spread of under-developed AI models has resulted in the fragmentation of our society. Bias is ramping up, in both the physical and digital world. I am a firm believer in the value of diversity, from the way we build our teams to the way we test our algorithms. All stakeholders in society need to embrace diversity and learn to be comfortable addressing human and algorithmic biases.”

The objective of the first meeting of the working group was to devise action points to provide a future workplan of activities, programmes, and outcomes to be realised by the working group. Initial discussions centred around the current challenges and opportunities the fourth industrial revolution presents to advance gender equality in the industrial sector. The group discussed ways to address the manufacturing sector’s gender gap, potential policy measures and practices to further increase women’s participation and leadership, and how to ensure that industrial policy frameworks are gender-responsive.

Ismail Ali Abdulla, CEO, Strata Manufacturing, said: “At Strata we are immensely proud of the fact that women make up 90% of the Emirati workforce employed at the company and over half the overall workforce. By empowering women to play a significant role in the success and direction of the company, we are setting an example for manufacturing companies everywhere. However, clearly much more needs to be done globally to ensure a more equitable level of participation by women in the manufacturing sector and we fully support initiatives that aim to achieve this goal.”

The fourth industrial revolution has the potential to reinforce existing gender inequalities, therefore the working group explored avenues to ensure that technologies driving the next phase of globalisation are inclusive, sustainable and people-centered. It was agreed that the goal of gender parity will require a concerted effort on the part of governments, the private sector, civil society and multilateral institutions.

Ali Abdulla, added: “Women represent a vast talent pool that is under represented in manufacturing and many other economic sectors. However, gender diversity holds proven benefits for manufacturers, which is why we must devise strategies to address the gender gap and promote a greater role for women in the sector. This starts with education and skills, but we must also tackle outdated perceptions of the working environment in industry to make manufacturing more appealing to everyone. As the fourth industrial revolution gathers pace, we must shape the future of manufacturing in a way that is inclusive and ensures that no group gets left behind.”

The Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit is a joint initiative by the United Arab Emirates and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Under the theme – Glocalisation: Towards Sustainable and Inclusive Global Value Chains, the third edition of the Summit (#GMIS2020) is taking place on September 4-5, 2020 gathering a cross-section of close to 100 global leaders from the world’s public and private sector to participate across more than 20 virtual sessions to discuss pathways to accelerate the role of fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies to build more resilient global value chains and restore prosperity in a post-pandemic world.

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