(Michelle Cometa)
Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - 4:07am

While the enrollment of women in university programs in the United Arab Emirates tops 60 percent, this does not translate into equally high job placement or career progression, where the number of Emirati women, for example, stands at just 4 percent.

To address this issue, Tarun Yenna, Linda Merieau and Rabiya Mahmood established Ladies Link, a community mentoring and professional support network for women in the UAE. The three were recognized for their work developing the organization and were presented the Most Promising New Social Initiative Award at the Corporate Social Responsibility Summit in Dubai in May.

Yenna, a second-year international business student at RIT Dubai and co-founder of the organization, was part of an earlier training program called Corporate Social Responsibility in Action sponsored by summit leaders. Students from area colleges in the region teamed up with corporate executives and had a month to develop grassroots community groups and programs. Yenna teamed up with Merieau, who worked at the United Nations prior to launching a consultancy firm in Dubai, and Mahmood, financial controller and corporate social responsibility manager for L'Oreal in the UAE. The team presented their strategies and focus for empowering women through the Ladies Link program at the summit.

By reaching women at the very beginning of their career, Ladies Link aims to help women overcome a variety of challenges that cause them to drop out of the workforce. Studies demonstrate that mentoring leads to reduced turnover and increased promotion opportunities, says Merieau, who acknowledged the positive influence of mentors early in her career. Ladies Link offers a mentor-matching program for female university students and young professional women, as well as monthly informational and educational programs.

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