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Promoting women’s rights

The UAE is fully committed to the promotion of women's rights and considers the empowerment of women as fundamental to the development of a modern and progressive society.  In the UAE, women participate on an equal basis in civil, economic and political life.

Women's equality is part of the UAE's Vision 2021 National Agenda, which aims to protect women from all forms of discrimination at work and in society and empowers Emirati women in all spheres.

The National Strategy for Empowerment of Emirati Women in the UAE for 2015- 2021 was launched by Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union (GWU), on 8 March  2015, International Women's Day.  The strategy provides a framework for government, private sector and civil society organizations to draw  plans to position the UAE among the most advanced countries in the area of women's empowerment.

The UAE Cabinet has also adopted a number of policies to promote the participation of women in the judicial sector, international missions, and peacekeeping operations as well as to protect women from domestic violence.

In December 2012, the Government issued a decision on the mandatory membership of UAE women in the Boards of Directors of federal bodies, companies and institutions.  In May 2015, the Government established the UAE Gender Balance Council to ensure that Emirati women continue to play a leading role in the development of the UAE.  The Council is carrying out several functions, including reviewing legislation, policies and programs to achieve gender balance in the workplace. 

On 28 August 2015, the 40th anniversary of the launch of the General Women's Union, the UAE held its first Emirati Women's Day, a national celebration of the role women play.

Education is considered key to the economic empowerment of women.  According to the World Economic Forum's 2014 Global Gender Gap Report, the UAE essentially reached equality between men and women in educational attainment.  95% of female high school graduates go on to pursue higher education (compared with 80% of the male students).  Women constitute 70% of college graduates in the country.

The UAE is also working to expand the participation of women in the workforce.  Women occupy 66% of public sector jobs - one of the highest proportions worldwide, including 30% of senior leadership positions associated with decision-making roles.  Women occupy 75% of positions in the education and health sectors. 

Women in the UAE participate actively in the private sector, including as entrepreneurs and managers.  Twenty-one thousand women are employers.  Female business owners account for ten per cent of the total private sector in the Emirates.  They run projects worth more than USD 10 billion.  Female business owners constitute 15 per cent of the members of the UAE chambers of commerce and industry's boards of directors. 

In the elections for the Federal National Council held on 3 October 2015, there were 78 women candidates (23.6% of the total).  There are eight female members of the Federal National Council, 20% of the total.

Furthermore, as per the directives of the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Emirati women's representation in the Federal National Council will be increased to 50 per cent in the coming parliamentary term.

Eight women were appointed to serve in the new Federal Cabinet announced on 10 February 2016 (constituting 27.5% of the total), including in key portfolios for promoting the empowerment of women both nationally and internationally such as international cooperation, social development, public education and youth.

Support for UN Women

The UAE is working in partnership with other countries and through the United Nations to promote the rights of women and girls everywhere.

The UAE was elected to serve on the Executive Board of UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, for two terms, from 2013-2015 and 2016-2018. 

The UAE has contributed more than USD 12 million to UN Women since 2012.  In addition, the UAE has funded the opening of UN Women liaison office for the GCC in Abu Dhabi. The Office strengthens partnerships with the UN on women's participation and women empowerment.

These contributions demonstrate the UAE's recognition of the importance and the value of the leading role played by UN Women in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Promoting the equal right of every girl to education

The UAE supports efforts to achieve equality in the enjoyment of the right to education, which is essential to women's economic empowerment.  The UAE promoted the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl during its membership of the UN Human Rights Council.  The UAE initiated a joint statement by 75 countries at the Human Rights Council in June 2014 which condemned attacks on girls because they attend or wish to attend school.  The UAE also led in the unanimous adoption by the Council in September 2014 of a resolution to convene a panel discussion at the Council's session in June 2015 to share lessons learned and best practices on realizing the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl.

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