Within two years UAE passed 11 laws aimed at empowering women.
The UAE has also joined the world celebrating the annual International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8.
This year’s theme for the IWD, ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world’, is devoted to the tremendous efforts made by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the pandemic.
In 2019 and 2020, the UAE approved 11 new laws and legislative amendments to strengthen women’s rights and ensure their overall empowerment.
In terms of political participation, the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, issued a resolution in 2019 to raise the representation of women in the Federal National Council (FNC) to 50 per cent during the 2019 elections.
The UAE issued Federal Decree-law No 6 of 2020, amending some provisions of the Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 to grant employees in the private sector a paid maternity leave. The UAE became the first Arab country to do so.
The country also issued the Decree of Federal Law No. 06 for 2020, stipulating equal wages for women and men in the private sector, if they perform the same work, or different work of equal value.
The President also approved Federal Law-Decrees to amend the Penal Code. Based on the UAE’s commitment to protecting women’s rights, amendments to the Penal Code and Criminal Procedural law have repealed the article providing for leniency for so-called “honor crimes”.
Women were among the key target categories in term of prevention and protection procedures adopted by the UAE. This was underscored by the implementation of remote work opportunities for pregnant women and mothers of students up to the ninth grade.
The UAE’s efforts are not limited to protecting women locally, it has also launched many initiatives around the world. The most notable are the women’s health telemedicine clinics of the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Volunteering Program. It is the first global telemedicine initiative that provides free diagnosis, treatment and prevention services for women.
Additionally, the UAE’s humanitarian aid to many countries prioritized women and children.
The UAE has a strong and growing relationship with UN Women, as it was a member of the executive board between 2013 and 2018. It assumed the presidency of the Executive Council of UN Women in 2017.
The UAE has provided the UN Women with financial support amounting to about $26 million. This aimed to strengthen its efforts to empower women worldwide.
The UAE opened a liaison office for the UN Women in Abu Dhabi in 2016 in partnership with the General Women’s Union.