Emirati women have overcome many traditional obstacles that obstructed their progress in many countries, enabling them to rise to the stage of complete social partnership and equal representation, as well as to become pioneers in many strategic sectors.
Coinciding with the country’s celebration of Emirati Women’s Day that will be held this year under the theme, "Women on the Course of Zayed," which reflects the country’s official statements and popular and media interactions with women, as well as their role in government, diplomatic and parliamentary work, along with their many success stories, especially those related to space sciences and clean energy.
The experience of Emirati women is an example to be followed in the Middle East, in light of the care and attention of the wise leadership.
Many factors contributed to the rise of Emirati women, most notably the legislative foundations that support their rights and have empowered them to participate in the country’s development, as ingrained in the constitutions, legislation and laws related to their rights and duties, which have made women a key pillar of social development.
Women today represent over 66 percent of the UAE’s workforce and have a strong presence, exceeding the presence of men, in education, health and banking, according to official statistics.
The UAE leads the Arab region in the United Nations, UN, list of the most gender-balanced countries, according to an annual index issued by the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP. It also occupies leading international positions in gender equality indexes, especially in terms of the rate of female literacy and their participation in secondary and higher education, according to the World Economic Forum Report 2016.
The same report states that 77 percent of Emirati women advance to higher education after graduating from secondary schools, and they also represent over 70 percent of the students of federal higher education institutions.
These statistics reveal the impact of Emirati women on the work of the UAE government, as well as their ability to become prominent members of the community and the private sector. These statistics also highlight the UAE’s effort in promoting social awareness and realising the collective goals of its citizens.
Women are prominent in legal civil society institutions, the media and the community sector while women’s institutions and associations, such as the General Women’s Union and the Gender Balance Council, are keen to adopt comprehensive strategies to expand the participation of women and improve their lives.
In 2015, the UAE launched a strategic plan to empower Emirati women, which will extend to 2021 and provide a framework for the government and private sectors and civil society organisations to adopt plans that aim to strengthen the UAE’s stature among advanced countries in the area of women’s empowerment.
In 2017, the UAE Gender Balance Council launched its "Gender Balance Guide," which was the first guide of its kind in the world and aimed to create a working balance between the genders. The guide was the main reference for the country’s institutions, in both the public and private sectors, and aimed to reduce the gender gap.
The UAE also issued a decision in December 2012, which obligated the Boards of Directors of federal authorities to appoint female members.
Regarding parliamentary work, Emirati women won several seats in national elections, which reflected the community’s trust in their abilities. Women have since advanced their presence, have empowered their parliamentary experience, and have been present in elections or been directly appointed during the council’s sessions, until they attained the highest parliamentary position, with the appointment of Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi as Speaker of the FNC.
Emirati women occupy diplomatic positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and there are currently four female ambassadors representing the UAE abroad while the number of Emirati women working in the diplomatic and consular corps at the ministry’s headquarters reached 175, as well as 42 in the diplomatic corps of foreign missions.