In line with the commitment of the UAE Gender Balance Council to strengthen partnerships and collaborations with international organisations, Mona Al Marri, Vice President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, participated in an introductory meeting with Charles Ramsden, Head of the European Union and International Team in the Government Equalities Office, GEO, in the United Kingdom.
The meeting was held to exchange experiences and insights on the best international gender standards and practices in the government sector.
During the meeting, Al Marri hailed the unique ties between the two countries, commending the United Kingdom for its success in advancing gender balance and women’s empowerment in both its government and private sectors. She discussed collaborative opportunities to work towards shared goals of narrowing the gender gap and enhancing women’s economic and political participation.
Al Marri emphasised that gender balance is an integral part of the UAE’s culture, and spoke about how the UAE Gender Balance Council was founded in 2015 under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to strengthen the decades of achievements of the country in this field.
The UAE Gender Balance Council’s responsibilities also include narrowing the gender gap across all sectors; enhancing gender balance in decision-making positions; supporting the UAE’s vision to become one of the world’s leading countries in gender balance; making recommendations on regulations, policies, programmes and initiatives, as well as promoting the UAE’s status as a benchmark for gender balance legislation.
In line with the government's continuous efforts to ensure the protection of women's rights and support their role in the UAE’s development, Al Marri highlighted the recent announcement of the UAE Cabinet's endorsement of a bill for the first legislation that ensures equal pay for men and women.
"Since the Council’s establishment in 2015, significant milestones in enhancing gender balance have been achieved, as a result of our wise leadership’s support," she said.
These milestones include the launch of 'The Gender Balance Guide: Actions for UAE Organisations', in September 2017, she explained, adding that the guide, which is the first-of-its-kind in the world, was developed in coordination with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, as a tool to advance gender balance in the workplace and promote a gender-sensitive approach in public and private organisations across the UAE.
She highlighted the Global Gender Circle as one of the key initiatives launched by the UAE Gender Balance Council with the goal of supporting the global gender agenda and SDG 5 "achieving gender equality and empower all women and girls." The initiative offers a dynamic platform for thought leaders and experts from across the world to discuss gender balance-related matters and work towards closing the gender gap through innovative ideas and progressive solutions.
Al Marri also pointed out the flourishing status of women in the UAE today, explaining that they represent 46.6 percent of the workforce and 66 percent of government jobs 30 percent of which are in leadership roles and 15 percent in specialised academic posts.
"Twenty-nine percent of ministers in the UAE are female, while the Federal National Council has a female representation of 20 percent, and the UAE is the first country in the Arab region to require a mandatory female presence in boardrooms, which was introduced in 2012," she continued.
Female representation on the UAE’s federal boards is currently 13.8 percent. The UAE is the first Arab nation to require female representation on boards of directors in the public and private sectors, and the second country worldwide following Norway.