Women in UAE equal partners to men in development process


Al Roumi was contributing to an informal debate of the UN General Assembly on the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

“Since the foundation of the UAE, the leadership has realised, under the guidance and directives of the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE and the architect of the comprehensive National Development Strategy, that women are essential and equal partners to men in the process of development.

“The most recent of these accomplishments is the representation of women in the legislative and executive authorities in the government where two women now occupy two seats in the cabinet, the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Social Affairs. And for the first time, women have the opportunity to vote and run for offices in the 40- seat Federal National Counsel which has both a legislative and supervisory role, where they gained nine seats last February,” she said.

Al Roumi said that Shaikha Fatima has been presiding over a number of national institutions concerned with women’s and family issues. The General Women’s Union was established in 1975, the Higher Council for Childhood and Motherhood came into being in 2003, and the Family Development Institution, was set up in 2006. She served as honorary president of the Red Crescent and was the spirit behind the establishment of the Women Refugees Fund and the special Fund for Refugee Mothers,” she added.

The minister explained that the UAE, since its establishment, had promulgated laws and regulations that ensure the constitutional rights of women and gender equality such as equal rights and responsibilities the right to entitlement, work, promotion, social security, business ownership, and finance management, equal wages, the right to free education, health care and social services.

“Certain laws granted women privileges according to their roles as mothers and care-takers such as the law of civil service which grants maternity leaves and other laws that provide working mothers with special facilities such as day care centres and nurseries at the work place,” she explained.

The minister said Emirati women had been participating effectively in the labour market where they account for 22.4 per cent of the total work force in the country and represent 66 per cent of the work force in the government sector with 30 per cent of them occupying leadership and decision-making positions.

“More than 10,000 women in the country own and run their own businesses. The capital managed by women amounts to Dh12.5 billion invested in various fields, including trade, industry finance, real estate, tourism, fairs and exhibitions, construction and services,” she elaborated.

She said the newly-established Ministry for Social Affairs, among other things, had been implementing a number of comprehensive social programmes aimed at providing a dignified living condition to needy people, including women suffering from financial hardship.

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