What Has the UAE Done to Empower Women in the Job Market?

Published August 27th, 2020 - 01:30 GMT
What Has the UAE Done to Empower Women in the Job Market?
Emirati laws were carefully designed not to disrupt social norms and to help to build a culture that is more accepting of women's employment. (Shutterstock: Freeograph)

For many years now, the UAE has made empowering women a major priority for policymakers, which inspired many efforts and programs to encourage women's involvement in the job market and to facilitate their participation in the workplace.

Despite it being one of the region's conservative societies, the Emirates has successfully made great steps into empowering women on social and professional levels, both by addressing cultural misconceptions that had limited women's participation in the professional arena and through passing laws that enable and facilitate women's inclusion.

Not only did the UAE focus efforts on providing women with equal educational and training opportunities to ensure enough qualifications in preparation for them to join institutions and companies, but it also developed all the legal tools needed to help women take the decision to pursue employment and to eliminate all the factors that could discourage them staying in their jobs.

As of last year, the female labor participation rate in the country neared 52%, which is higher than the global average that remains around 47%. According to experts, the Emirati rate was significantly affected by the private sector's weak commitment to women's empowerment compared to the public one.

For example, in 2018 the Emirati government passed the equal wages and salaries law through which all women working in the public sector gained the right to receive the same salaries allocated for their male peers for doing the same jobs.

During March of the same year, the UAE approved new policies that granted women a 3-month maternity leave, with the option to extend it for no more than 120 unpaid days. The new policy also gave new mothers the chance to work for reduced working hours to help them balance family life and career requirements.

Additionally, Emirati laws give women the right to NOT work during night shifts with a few stated exceptions, so as not to disrupt social norms and to help build a culture that is more accepting of women's employment.

While the UAE has achieved huge steps in favor of women's inclusion and participation in the workplace, it is still working hard to get the private sector involved in its efforts to balance the gender gap in the country.

Working to achieve its goal of integrating women into the economy, the UAE has established the Gender Balance Council in 2015, hoping to place the nation among the top 25 countries for gender equality by 2021.

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