Dubai, United Arab Emirates: In a bid to tackle the career progression challenges faced by women in the PR sector, PRCA MENA and Global Women in PR MENA have co-launched Taa Marbouta — a unique, women-to-women mentorship programme and campaign.
The programme, which is free for all aspiring PR women, has been designed to not only support young women to succeed in the industry, but also change the narrative on mentorship as a predominantly male-dominated undertaking to an equally female-oriented role.
Young women in PR and related fields are encouraged to apply via the Taa Marbouta page, hosted on the PRCA MENA website. The programme is also calling for senior women in PR and related industries to apply as mentors through the same avenue.
The cause has been brought to life with the unveiling of the programme’s unique logo, which was adapted from the Arabic letter taa marbouta, which is used to transform masculine words to feminine ones.
The programme was launched during a live virtual event, which featured its class of impressive Original Inductees — the name given to the founding women mentors — who have all committed to the cause free of charge. These include senior female figures from Dubai Media Office, Google, Twitter, GEMS Education, Volkswagen, The COO Network, She Is Arab, Arab International Women’s Forum, and Memac Ogilvy — the programme’s founding partner and communications agency. The mentors will offer a range of important services beyond a typical mentoring programme to support today’s unique challenges faced by women. These include mental and emotional support — helping to deal with working from home and being less visible in the workplace; capability and skills building to combat new industry challenges; guidance on how to articulate more loudly and clearly in a male-dominated setting; and more.
The event also included an address from its Guest of Honour, Her Execellency Dr. Nawal Al-Hosany, the UAE’s Permanent Representative to IRENA, who said in a video message: “This programme is crucial and could really spark a turning point. Currently, there are still far too few women in boardrooms and senior management roles… rectifying this requires a collective effort.”
Bridging the senior gender gap
Even now, when women make up two thirds of the workforce in the public relations industry, more than half of all senior positions and management roles are taken up by men. This has led to a distinct lack of mentor-mentee relationships between women, drastically reducing the number of support avenues and opportunities for progression available to them. More than two-thirds of women claim that increased senior female mentorship is the most important thing to help young women progress further in the PR industry, according to Global Women in PR’s annual survey.
Taa Marbouta has its roots in the history of the word ‘mentor’ itself, being inherently masculine in both practice and language. The programme therefore takes its name from the letter used to denote feminine words in the Arabic language — symbolic of the change Taa Marbouta aims to effect on the narrative that mentorship is a male-dominated undertaking.
Tackling a universal issue
“We are incredibly excited to see our vision taking shape and are encouraged by the amount of support we have already received,” said Rachel Dunn, Global Women in PR MENA Board Member. “The truth is that this isn’t an industry or even a region-specific problem — it’s a universal and historical one — which is why seeing so many people come together to support the cause is so inspiring. In a way, that’s what Taa Marbouta is all about: bringing people together and bridging the divide.”
More than 12 mentors from globally renowned companies have been inducted into the programme so far, with the first group being hand-picked for their philosophies, commitment to the industry, and leadership qualities, as well as their dedication to supporting young female professionals in ways senior men cannot.
“Mentor bias is everywhere. In every industry, in every boardroom, and even in language,” commented Hayley Clements, General Manager, PRCA MENA. “We want to reset the narrative entirely and where better to start than with bright, young talent? Placing them alongside some of the most brilliant and inspiring women in our region will provide an opportunity for professionals at large to reassess modern mentorship, transform their definitions of success, and create new career opportunities with the backing of other women.”
Patou Nuytemans, Outgoing Chief Executive, Memac Ogilvy, said, “I firmly believe in women championing women. Our challenges and perspectives are unique, and we therefore need to support each other in ways others can’t. Sometimes this gets forgotten, but programmes like this remind us of how critical it is to breaking the professional barriers that hold women back. I am proud of our involvement in this programme and I hope it can be a moment of change in the PR industry as well as the wider marketing and communications industry.”