Report says leaders' support makes UAE a global leader in gender balance

Sheikha Manal says Gender Balance Council's achievements enable the UAE to solidify its position among the world’s leading countries

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Wam file
Wam file

A Staff Reporter

Published: Sat 27 Aug 2022, 9:26 PM

The UAE Gender Balance Council has achieved remarkable success on the global stage. The achievement became possible through the support of the wise leadership and the support of Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union (GWU), President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF), the Mother of the Nation, a council report has said.

In the report, Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, President of the Dubai Women Establishment (DWE), and wife of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, shed light on the initiatives and projects implemented by the council during the past seven years, all of which have contributed enormously to the global recognition of the UAE’s commitment to gender balance.

Sheikha Manal expressed her pride in these accomplishments and emphasised that the support and progressive vision of the wise leadership has enabled the UAE to solidify its position among the world’s leading countries in this field, resulting in notable successes by Emirati women over the past 50 years. She added that legislation and policies established the principle of equal opportunities, equal rights and duties, and access to equal job opportunities.

Sheikha Manal confirmed that these efforts have transformed the work culture in the UAE and have enabled the country to successfully climb the rankings in multiple international reports measuring gender equality, advancing to 18th place globally in 2020, from 49th in 2015 and first in the Arab world in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Gender Inequality Index (GII). The UAE also ranked first in the MENA region in the ‘Women, Business and the Law’ report in 2021 and 2022 published by the World Bank, which measures governments’ efforts worldwide in developing laws and legislation aimed at protecting and economically empowering women.

The UAE also ranked first in the Arab world in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report in 2021 and 2022, where it led globally in four sub-indicators: women’s parliamentary representation, literacy rate, the gender ratio at birth, and the rate of girls’ enrolment in primary education. The UAE also led globally in female parliamentary representation in 2020 and 2021 in the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, where the percentage of women’s representation in the Federal National Council reached 50 per cent and ranked first in the secondary enrolment gender gap indicator in the Global Human Capital Report by World Economic Forum.

Sheikha Manal stated that the UAE Gender Balance Strategy 2022-2026 aims to build the UAE’s global leadership and influence in this field, stressing that gender balance is a priority in the country’s vision under the leadership of the President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.

She also praised the support provided by Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak to women in the family, social, educational and professional fields for over half a century, which led to impactful progress in gender balance and equal opportunities for all, enabling the UAE to become a regional model to follow.

She discussed the most important projects implemented by the council since its establishment, which include the ‘Gender Balance Guide: Actions for UAE Organisations’, developed in cooperation with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the first of its kind in the world to support gender balance in the workplace. Another initiative is the ‘Gender Balance Index’, developed in cooperation with the Prime Minister’s Office, which honours government personalities, initiatives and entities that support gender balance. Sheikha Manal announced that the Index would soon be implemented at the local government level after the great success and impact it had at the federal level since 2017, in a step that will play an essential role in enhancing the competitiveness of the UAE globally.

During Expo 2020, the council launched a report titled ‘Balance for Better: A comprehensive overview of gender balance in the UAE’, to promote gender balance awareness in the UAE, highlighting its process and the achievements made in the country and exploring opportunities to enhance its competitiveness globally.

Since 2019, the UAE Gender Balance Council has worked with a group that included ministries and federal authorities to review, update and propose new legislation and policies related to women to enhance gender balance in the country and fill any gaps in global indicators. As a result, new laws and legislative improvements were issued in more than 20 legal articles over three years, covering areas such as work, protection, political participation, personal status law, parental leaves, wages, banking transactions, freedom of movement, marriage, entrepreneurship, property and pension.

In 2020, the council launched the ‘Guide for Women on Board’, in cooperation with the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA), as part of its efforts to increase women’s representation in leadership and decision-making positions in the public and private sectors, due to its positive effects proven by previous experiences and specialised studies.

The UAE was the first country in the region and the second in the world after Norway to issue binding legislation requiring the representation of women on the boards of directors of government entities and institutions in 2012. The SCA also implemented a policy to raise the percentage of women representation on their boards of directors in publicly listed companies. These efforts led to an increase in the representation of women on the boards of directors of federal government entities to 24 per cent and 19.8 per cent on the boards of directors of the chambers of commerce and industry in the country.

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