Women in the United Arab Emirates
|Gender Inequality Index|
|Maternal mortality (per 100,000)||12 (2010)|
|Women in parliament||17.5% (2012)|
|Females over 25 with secondary education||73.1% (2010)|
|Women in labour force||43.5% (2011)|
|Global Gender Gap Index|
|Rank||109th out of 144|
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|Women in society|
Women in the United Arab Emirates have achieved some measures of legal protection in recent years. In 2008–2009, 21% of Emirati women were part of the labor force, whereas 45% of Kuwaiti women were part of the labor force.
Some laws continue to discriminate against Emirati women. Emirati women must receive permission from a "male guardian" to remarry. The requirement is derived from Sharia law, and has been federal law since 2005.
The role of women in society in the UAE has gradually expanded since the discovery of oil. Before 1960 there were few opportunities for them outside the realm of home and family. In the early 1990s, there were five women's societies promoting various issues of importance to women, including literacy and health.
In 2006, less than 20% of Emirati women were part of the national labor force. The UAE has the second lowest percentage of local women working in the GCC. In 2008–2009, only 21% of Emirati women were part of the labor force. The UAE has the highest percentage of total female labor participation in the GCC (including expatriate women). However, Kuwait has the highest percentage of local female labor participation in the GCC because more than 45% of Kuwaiti women are part of the national labor force. 80% of women in the UAE are classified as household workers (maids). Within the business sector, the UAE possesses the largest number of businesswomen in the region where entrepreneurship is becoming increasingly popular. At the nine-year-old Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, women constitute 43% of its investors while the city’s Businesswomen’s association boasts 14,000 members. At the forefront of Emirati women in business is Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan al Qasimi, appointed Minister for Economy and Planning in November 2004 and subsequently promoted to her current post as Minister of Foreign Trade. Sheikha Lubna holds the distinction of being the first woman to hold a ministerial post in the country. Her efforts have led her to be rated within the Forbes Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women.
Dubai Women Establishment
Dubai Women Establishment, led by Her Highness Shaikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is the first government entity in the UAE that supports and focuses on women in the workforce. The main objective is to increase the effective participation of Emirati women in the workforce through different means and tools. They look at international reports and rankings and monitor the UAE rankings and growth, and aim to positively impact Global Competitive reports & the Gender Gap report. DWE is involved with research, policy proposals, and activation of women-related regulations in Dubai and the other Emirates, as well as attending networking events and forums, and working on customized development programs, projects and initiatives. The aim is building bridges, sustainable leadership for women, international representation of Emirati women and women in boards. Impact of DWE includes the creation of six on-site children’s nurseries at various organizations, which has led to a higher level of female retention and lower turnover rate and Women in Board initiative, where special attention is given to increasing Emirati female representation in boardrooms.
The Arab Women Leadership Forum
The Arab Women Leadership Forum, took place in November 2014, which was hosted under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai. This two-day forum focused on competitiveness and how women can contribute to the rankings and growth of countries.
Politics and government
Within the public sector, governmental employment for Emirati women has increased from 11.6% in 1995, 22% in 2005 and 66% as of June 2007. In September 2008, Dr. Hissa Al Otaiba and Sheikha Najla Al Qasimi became the UAE’s first female ambassadors, serving Spain and Sweden respectively.
The UAE became the second Arab country with a female marriage registrar after Egypt. By 2006, women have accounted for over 22% of the Federal National Council. The UAE's minister of state post is Reem Al Hashimi, who is the first female minister to be in this role.
Emirati women must receive permission from male guardian to remarry. The requirement is derived from Sharia, and has been federal law since 2005. In all emirates, it is illegal for Muslim women to marry non-Muslims. In the UAE, a marriage union between a Muslim woman and non-Muslim man is punishable by law, since it is considered a form of "fornication".
The 2007 report on the progress of MDGs in the UAE states, “the proportion of females in higher education has risen remarkably at a rate that has not been achieved in any other country in the world. During the years 1990 to 2004 the number of female university students has grown to double that of male students. This is the result of the promotion and encouragement of women’s education by state and family.” Upon completion of high school, 95% of Emirati women continue on to higher education and comprise 75% of the student population at the Al Ain national university. Women comprise 70% of college graduates in the UAE. According to Dubai Women’s College, 50-60% of its 2,300 students proceed to seek employment upon graduation.
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- "Kuwait: Selected Issues and Statistical Appendix". International Monetary Fund. 2012. p. 43.
- "Divorcees, widows concerned about receiving 'permission' before remarrying".
- This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress document: "United Arab Emirates: A country study". Federal Research Division. January 1993. Status of women.
- The Emirati Workforce Page 30
- Glass, Amy. "Working women contribute US$3.4bn to the UAE’s economy". Arabian Business (December 2007).
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- “The 100 Most Powerful Women.” Forbes (2007).
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- "On "Human rights day", Emirates first among Arab countries and (95%) women's participation in higher education". mohesr.gov.ae. Retrieved 2015-02-07.
- "The Business Year". thebusinessyear.com. Retrieved 2015-02-07.
- "United Arab Emirates International Religious Freedom Report, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (2009)". state.gov. Retrieved 2015-02-07.
- UNDP Millennium Development Goals United Arab Emirates Report (PDF), p. 14 (March 2007).[dead link]
- "UAE–US Relations: Women's Issues brief". Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2015-02-07.
- "Dubai Women Storm World of Work". BBC News (August 2005).
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