The UAE has been ranked 18th globally and the first regionally in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2020 Gender Inequality Index (GII).
H.H. Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, President of Dubai Women Establishment, and wife of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, expressed her pride at the UAE rising eight positions from its previously-held ranking of 26th in 2019.
She said: "The UAE Gender Balance Council was founded in 2015 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, with the goal of making the UAE one of the world’s top 25 countries in gender balance, as per the UNDP GII, by the year 2021. I am very proud of what we have accomplished in five years since the Council’s establishment. This achievement reflects the priority given to gender balance in our leadership’s vision, and the long-standing support offered to women in the UAE."
Sheikha Manal added: "As we celebrate surpassing the target that we initially aimed to reach by 2021, we renew our ongoing commitment to further consolidating the UAE’s status as a model for gender balance best practices."
She thanked His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayan, President of the UAE; His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and H.H. 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), for their steadfast commitment to women’s development and empowerment, and their unwavering dedication to increasing women’s representation and active participation in the UAE across all fields. Sheikha Manal also expressed her gratitude for their support for initiatives and policies that enhance women’s inclusion as equal partners in the nation’s sustainable development.
She stated: "In the UAE, we work towards clear, specific, and ambitious goals within a motivating atmosphere that enables us to excel and distinguish ourselves in the global arena." Her Highness emphasised that this achievement was made possible by the joint efforts of the Council’s members and cooperation with various government institutions and agencies, all of which have been extremely proactive in working to embed gender balance within their organisational cultures, practices and agendas.
Sheikha Manal said that the UAE’s commitment to excellence is the legacy of the country’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. "Since the foundation of the UAE, the empowerment and inclusion of women has been recognised as vital to ensuring sustained success, progress and innovation. The UAE has become a role model in the Arab world and across the region for policies supporting gender balance and for its efforts to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 5 (Gender Equality) ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’, by 2030."
She also highlighted notable efforts that have contributed to this achievement and to advancing both the global and local gender balance agenda. These include the establishment of the UAE’s Gender Balance Index, which was developed in line with the UNDP’s criteria and international best practices, and the issuance of the ‘Gender Balance Guide’ – the first guide of its kind in the world – published in collaboration with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The UNDP annually publishes its Gender Inequality Index as part of the Human Development Report, measuring gender balance across three dimensions: reproductive health, empowerment, and economic activity. The Index ranks countries across several indicators: maternal mortality ratio, adolescent birth rate, the proportion of parliamentary seats occupied by females, portion of the population comprising of both men and women with at least secondary education, and the labour force participation rate of both men and women.