The United Arab Emirates has adopted a powerful stance in empowering women, setting new standards based on a unique model drawn from the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the UAE. This approach perpetuates in the current leadership’s vision for the future, whereby women stand as active partners and contributors in the country’s development process and play a vital role in raising future generations.
The UAE Constitution guarantees equal rights for women and men. The country is leading the way in a number of regional and global indexes on gender equality and women’s achievements, education and literacy, women’s employment, and respect for women among several social and economic indicators and other indicators.
The country’s constitution supports the participation of Emirati women in decision-making, a core component of economic empowerment. In December 2014, the UAE Cabinet adopted a decision imposing the appointment of women on the boards of directors of all institutions and government agencies, setting the proportion of female representation at 15% in government institutions. Nine women sit on the Federal National Council for the 16th legislature, representing 22.5% of 40 members. Furthermore, women make up 27% of the new Cabinet formed in 2016 which includes nine women ministers, one of whom is the youngest minister appointed to Cabinet (23 years).
The UAE Gender Balance Council was established in 2015 as a federal agency dedicated to scaling up the UAE’s efforts to achieve gender balance across all sectors nationwide, and in decision-making positions. Women are actively involved in the judiciary sector with several women judges and prosecutors, as well as a significant female presence in the police and the military. In the diplomatic field, women currently hold 30% of positions in the diplomatic corps at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, which comprised 234 women employees in 2017, including women ambassadors and diplomats representing the UAE abroad.
Moreover, the UAE has made remarkable progress in reducing gender disparities in girls’ education in schools and higher education, with more than 70 percent of girls graduating from universities. In the economic field and in the business world, women have set themselves as partners, making up 46.6% of the total workforce, holding 66% of the jobs of the public sector, 30% of which are decision-making positions. Furthermore, 23,000 businesswomen manage projects worth about USD15 billion in the UAE.
At the international level, more than 14 per cent of total international aid contributed by the United Arab Emirates in 2016 was devoted to empowering women and girls around the world. After deducting bilateral support to government budgets, which accounts for more than half of the value of foreign aid contributed by the UAE in 2016, the proportion of aid allotted to the promotion gender equality and women’s empowerment accounts for nearly one-third of total aid.