According to World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2016, the UAE's global rank is as follows:
- 8th rank for the sub-index of wage equality for similar work
- 1st rank for the sub-index of literacy rate
- 1st rank for the sub-index of enrolment in secondary education
- 1st rank for the sub-index of sex ratio at birth (female/male)
In May 2015, the Government adopted a decision to establish UAE Gender Balance Council to ensure that Emirati women continue to play a leading role in the development of the UAE. The Council is charged to oversee the implementation of best practices and processes to ensure federal institutions achieve their gender balance targets, which will support the UAE's vision to become one of the world's top 25 countries for gender equality by 2021. The Council carries out several functions, including reviewing legislation, policies and programmes to achieve gender balance in the workplace.
Also read about gender balance guide at workplace.
Source: Gender Balance Guide
Education for Emiratis is free in public schools, colleges and universities. Article 17 of the UAE's Constitution and Article 1 of Federal Law No. 11 of 1972 concerning Compulsory Education provide that education is compulsory at primary stages and free of charge at all stages for citizens in the UAE.
Aiming to bring the compulsory school-leaving age more in line with many other advanced countries across the world, the UAE Cabinet approved a new law in July 2012. This law makes it compulsory for Emirati children to start schooling at the age of 6 and remain in school until they have completed Grade 12 or reach the age of 18, whichever occurs first.
Read more about education in the UAE.
Empowerment of women in the UAE had started in 8 February 1973 when the first women's meeting in the UAE, 'The Renaissance of Abu Dhabi Women Association' was held. The foundation of similar associations began in other emirates. Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak envisioned the need to cope with the unitary ideology of her husband, the late Sheikh Zayed who was the Founding Father of the UAE and established General Women's Union in 1975 joining all women associations in the UAE.
Since then, the UAE has implemented a number of initiatives for the economic empowerment of women in the UAE. In December 2012, the Government issued a decision on the mandatory membership of Emirati women in the Boards of Directors of federal bodies, companies and institutions.
Women in the workforce
According to a report published in October 2015 in Gulf News, women occupy 66 per cent of public sector jobs, one of the highest proportions worldwide. 30 per cent occupy senior leadership positions associated with decision-making roles.
Women in the UAE participate actively in the private sector in various roles including that of entrepreneurs and managers. According to another report published in November 2015 in WAM, there are 21,000 women employers in the UAE.
Women business-owners account for 10 per cent of the total private sector in the UAE. They run projects worth more than AED 40 billion and constitute 15 per cent of the members of the boards of directors of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Read about the special provisions for women employees in the UAE.
National Strategy for Empowerment of Emirati Women
On 8 March 2015, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Chairwoman of General Women's Union (GWU) launchedNational Strategy for Empowerment of Emirati Women in the UAE for 2015-2021 (WAM). The strategy provides a framework for government, private sector and civil society organisations to establish work plans to position the UAE among the most advanced countries in the area of women's empowerment.
The strategy contains four basic priorities:
- maintaining the sustainability of the Emirati women's achievements and continue achieving further gains
- maintaining the social fabric and cohesion through integrating the roles between men and women in order to build a strong and cohesive society able to cope with emerging changes
- providing a decent and safe social welfare based on high quality foundations for women
- developing the spirit of responsibility and strengthening the position of the UAE's women in regional and international fora.
Women in politics
Women in the restructured government
The new federal government witnessed the largest structural changes in its history; several new portfolios were added and new ministers were appointed to handle these roles.
Among the 29 ministers of the new government, 8 are women constituting almost 27 per cent of the total ministers. Women ministers handle the new portfolios of tolerance, happiness and youth. The Minister of State for Youth Affairs, Shamma bint Sohail Faris Al Mazrui was 22 years old when she took office in early 2016.
The participation of women in the UAE Cabinet is amongst the highest in the world, reflecting the strong position reached by the Emirati women.
Women in the FNC 2015 elections
In the elections for the Federal National Council (FNC) held on 3 October 2015, there were 78 women candidates (23.6 per cent of the total).
8 women were appointed (20 per cent of the total) to serve in the new Federal Cabinet announced on 10 February 2016 (constituting 27 per cent of the total ministers).
Her Excellency Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi was elected as the President of the Federal National Council, making her the first woman to chair a parliamentary institution at the regional level.
Women in the diplomatic corps
The UAE women hold positions as diplomats in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The number of Emirati women in the diplomatic and consular corps at the ministry's headquarters is 175. ِAdditionally, 42 women work in the diplomatic corps at the UAE missions abroad. There are currently 4 women ambassadors in the diplomatic corps at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
Transport and parking facilities
In Abu Dhabi and Al Ain cities, there are pink taxis driven by women to carry women, children younger than 10 years old and families. You can call 600-535-353 to book a taxi in Abu Dhabi.
In the emirate of Abu Dhabi, front seats on the public buses are reserved for women.
In the emirate of Dubai, there are pink taxis driven by women to carry women and families. You can book a taxi in Dubai by calling 04-2080808.
In Dubai, front seats on the public buses are reserved for women. Some cabins on the public metro and trams are reserved for women.
In Sharjah too, special taxis for women are available. In Sharjah, you can book a taxi by calling 600525252 or book online.
In Abu Dhabi city, parking spaces are reserved for women and are indicated with pink colour.
For more information, contact the local transport authorities:
Emirati Women's Day
The UAE observes Emirati Women’s Day on 28 August, the day of the foundation of General Women’s Union. Observation of this day aims to hail the efforts of Emirati women who play different roles; from a mother to a pilot and a leader and lead in building the nation. All government and private organisations celebrate this day.
Updated on 19 Sep 2018