by Nada Al Ghurair
  • 2 minute read
  • December 18, 2021
Gen Z Emirati: How Women Empowerment Is Embedded In The UAE’s Fabric

According to the World Bank’s newly released 2021 ‘Women, Business and the Law’ (WBL) report, the UAE has topped MENA region rankings because of several legislative reforms related to women’s economic participation that were enacted over the past three years.

It is no secret that the strategy for the Empowerment of Emirati Women at the federal government level – launched in 2015 for all areas of sustainable development – has implemented various work programs over the past ten years. These were then fast-tracked over the past three years; so, the strategy’s ultimate objectives for 2021 have obviously been realized.

Today, women do not just make up half the total members of the Federal National Council of the UAE – a one-of-a-kind parliament – they also make up 66 per cent of government employees, including 30 per cent at the leadership level and 30 per cent in the diplomatic corps.

Legislative reforms regarding discrimination in the workplace, parental leave, access to credit for businesses, political participation, as well as protection and social security were set as priorities on the UAE legislators’ agenda, who amended the laws to prohibit discrimination and promote gender equality in record time.

Today, women do not just make up half the total members of the Federal National Council of the UAE, they also make up 66 per cent of government employees.

The UAE’s leadership firmly believes that gender balance and positive discrimination towards women have always been integral to the country’s social fabric and continue to be a key priority for the future. However, to enjoy the fruits of the UAE’s efforts to enhance gender balance in various spheres, there is a need to develop clear procedures and adopt concrete action plans to entrench gender balance practices, especially to include family life and marriage sustainability as core components, if we are to maintain a community and cultural fabric that preserves our society for generations to come.

Traditionally, women have always been perceived as the backbone of family life and social structure in the UAE. But, thanks to the current debate on what constitutes empowerment, dominated by the controversy between a woman’s capability to maintain a successful career on the one hand and the happiness of her family on the other, a forceful argument prevails to prioritize family over work.

The adoption of women’s empowerment as a future strategy does not align with the UAE’s vision for family and social stability. The empowerment process should be balanced and at the same time in tune with the people’s aspirations. The aim is to generate self- sustaining empowerment processes while balancing the dynamics so that the term does not get used in unproductive initiatives.

Photography: Ausra Osipaviciute; Location: Kulture House, Dubai

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