According to the World Bank’s newly released 2021 ‘Women, Business and the Law’ (WBL) report, the UAE has topped the Mena region rankings, as a result of several legislative reforms related to women’s economic participation that were enacted over the last three years.
Considered one of the most significant global indexes that analyses laws and regulations affecting women’s economic inclusion in 190 economies, the annual report is composed of eight indicators structured around women’s interactions with the law as they begin, progress through, and end their careers. The indicators are: Mobility, Workplace, Pay, Marriage, Parenthood, Entrepreneurship, Assets, and Pension.
This year, the UAE achieved 82.5 points out of a total of 100 points, compared to 56 points scored in the report’s 2020 edition and 29 points in the 2019 edition. The UAE also achieved a full score (100 points) in five indicators in the latest report: Movement, Workplace, Wages, Entrepreneurship, and Pension.
Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, said that the massive strides made by the UAE in the latest report are the result of new laws and more than 20 legislative reforms focused on enhancing women's economic participation. She said that these achievements are significant additions to the UAE’s scientific, economic and social accomplishments that are set to propel the country’s accelerated progress in the next fifty years.
She also stressed that the UAE’s successes in promoting gender balance have been driven by the unwavering support of the UAE’s leadership, which has been committed to ensure women have equal opportunities to contribute to the nation’s sustainable development. Right from the country’s foundation in 1971, the leadership granted equal rights to women and worked tirelessly to protect women’s freedoms and rights, and to remove all barriers to their advancement. Their vision inspired all stakeholders to work together to raise women’s participation in every sphere of life, she noted.
Some of the legislative reforms that are credited with enhancing the UAE’s ranking include amendments to the laws regarding discrimination in the workplace, parental leave, access to credit for business, political participation, as well as protection and social security. This year, the UAE became the first and only country in Mena region to offer parental leave. The UAE labour law also prohibits the termination of a woman’s contract due to pregnancy. It also prohibits discrimination between employees in the workplace, granting women equal access to employment and promotion opportunities.
The UAE Central Bank has also issued a notice for all banking and financial institutions in the UAE to promote gender equality and prohibit any gender discrimination in all banking and financial transactions, including obtaining loans and credit facilities. In 2019, the UAE government issued a Federal Decree to ensure equality in the representation of both genders in the judiciary sector. In addition, as per a directive of the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Emirati women must occupy 50 per cent of the Federal National Council’s seats.
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