Over the Last 50 Years Women in UAE have Accomplished a Great Deal

In under 50 years, the UAE has seen its creation as a nation and its development into a global economic, cultural, and diplomatic superpower. As a new country with a vision for the future, the UAE defined a course for its people from the start, emphasizing progressive ideals and equal opportunity. 

This is most visible in the country’s treatment of women as equal partners. The UAE is determined to guarantee that women continue to make great gains while keeping entrenched in its early traditions of respect for women’s contributions to society and looking to the future. 

This year, when the international community gathers to observe Human Rights Day on Friday, we must take a minute to reflect on how far the country has come and imagined a society in which women lead the way to further progress and prosperity. 

Since the country’s inception in 1971, the government has learned to become a staunch supporter of women’s empowerment. 

The UAE has become a dynamic, modern nation in which women play an active role in all aspects of social and political life. Women have the same legal position, title claim, access to education, right to practice professions, and right to inherit property as men under the Constitution. 

Women’s voices have historically been incorporated in decision-making at all levels of government and civil society due to the assistance provided by Sheikha Fatima, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union. 

It comes as no surprise, then, that women hold 29% of cabinet positions in the UAE, one of the highest proportions in the Middle East. Women also make up half of the Federal National Council, the UAE’s consultative parliamentary body, and nearly half of the staff in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Women have consistently been leaders in key fields ranging from government to the military, arts and culture, the economy, and others. 

In addition to rules ensuring equal pay for women, non-discrimination against pregnant employees, and regular maternity leave, the UAE has enacted legislation to protect women’s personal status freedoms. Recent legal reforms in the UAE have enhanced women’s rights by enshrining protections for divorce, separation, and asset distribution, while also imposing harsher punishments for assault and harassment. Women will be better protected in the newest wave of reforms announced in November, thanks to the approval of a Federal Crime and Punishment Law that will boost public safety and security. 

The UAE has risen to the top of regional indicators of gender equality and women’s empowerment. In addition to being ranked top in the Arab world in the UN Development Programme’s 2020 Gender Equality Index, the UAE has recently been named the safest country for women in Georgetown University’s Women, Peace, and Security Index. While the index found that women in the UAE felt safe walking alone at night in their neighborhoods, the report reveals something far more important: where women feel safe and secure, they are free to live productive, healthy, and fulfilled lives to their full potential. 

That is why, with the historic opening of Expo 2020 Dubai, the UAE was honoured to present the first Women’s Pavilion in recognition of the great effect women continue to have on the world. The Women’s Pavilion, nestled amid 200 pavilions representing 192 countries and other entities, brings together the inspiring narratives of female change-makers who have inspired women and girls throughout history. 

Visitors will learn about global projects and solutions developed by women in their efforts to make the world a better place. Aside from uplifting women, the Women’s Pavilion provides a unique setting for important dialogues about women’s views for a future in which they overcome obstacles and assist others in reaching their goals. 

The UAE opened the region’s first UN Women regional office in Abu Dhabi in 2016. It has contributed around $26 million to the organization since its inception in 2010, ranking top in the Arab world in contribution last year. 

Through this collaboration, the UAE and UN Women developed the Women, Peace, and Security Training Programme at the Khawla bint Al Azwar Military Academy to train and serve as peacekeepers for women from developing nations. 

Involving women and girls in civil society and government is critical for developing peaceful communities that are more resilient to conflict and instability. 

As a result, the UAE launched its 100% Women policy in 2018, resolving that by 2021, the UAE’s foreign assistance policy would commit up to 100% of its bilateral and multilateral international development investments to either target or integrate gender mainstreaming and women and girls’ empowerment. 

The UAE’s intersectional approach to women’s empowerment, which recognizes the necessity of solutions customized to the local context, has made the UAE a useful partner to developing countries on the world stage. 

While serving on the United Nations Security Council, which the UAE was recently voted to for the 2022-2023 term, the UAE will continue to advocate for the world’s most vulnerable people and seek new ways to empower all community members, particularly women and girls, around the world. 

Photo Credit : https://iconscout.com/illustration/arab-woman-1668020