Opinion and Editorial

KT edit: An exposition of gender balance and female empowerment

Filed on September 21, 2021

The progress and success of Emirati women are key to enhancing the UAE’s global standing.

Recently, there was the announcement that the UAE Gender Balance Council and Expo 2020 Dubai have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen engagement on “gender balance and women empowerment” — all over the country — over the course of the mega event. Reem bint Ebrahim Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and director-general of Expo 2020 Dubai, pointed out: “The progress and success of Emirati women are key to enhancing the UAE’s global standing, and are the result of the foundations laid by our founding fathers that continue to be implemented by our wise leadership.” She added: “We will share our vision with the world and showcase the strength of cooperation through our country’s achievements over the past five decades. We will work with participating countries, organisations and the international community to shed light on our achievements and future goals in promoting gender balance worldwide, utilising history’s most comprehensive Expo as a platform.”

This is the latest milestone on a long and fruitful path. Last year, when the UAE launched its Emirates Mars Mission — a feat that became a global talking point because the UAE became the first Arab country to send an orbiter to the Red Planet — the rest of the world was awed. Not just because it was only the fifth country to do so and because the UAE leapfrogged into a select league of nations. But also because the mission was spearheaded by a woman: Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri, UAE’s Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency. In one sweep, she debunked the myth that women in the “Islamic world” play second fiddle to the men, helming something as progressive and scientific as a space programme.

It was perhaps a very visible moment of truth given that the event was a momentous one on the world stage; but all of us who live in the UAE and call it home already know that this is a country that takes women’s empowerment very seriously. And the leadership has always walked the talk. We have observed touchpoints in this direction over the years: like, for instance, the fact that the UAE labour law provides that the female worker shall be granted a wage equal to that as the man is earning if she were performing the same work; or when in 2018, the UAE Cabinet approved a law on equal wages and salaries for women and men, “in line with the government’s objective to ensure the protection of women’s rights and support their role in the process of national development”.

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