It was announced earlier this week that the UAE would allocate 50% of seats in its Federal National Council to women in 2019, in a move that has won much praise on social media. The initiative has also drawn the attention of the United Nations’ female empowerment entity, known as UN Women, which has paid tribute to the act.
Following a decree released on Saturday by President Sheikh Khalifa, half of the seats in the 40-chair council will go to females, in a bid to “further empower Emirati women and bolster their contributions to development”. Currently, female members make up 22.5% of the 40-seat council, including HE Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, and HE Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister for Youth.
“I welcome the UAE’s decision, which makes them a pioneer in the region with among the highest representation of women in office globally,” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN under-secretary-general and executive director of UN Women, said, according to The National. “This means more diverse decision making, tabling of different issues and a strong message to all girls that they too can lead and be anything they want to be.”
The announcement came just days after His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum chaired a special session of the UAE Cabinet, during which a range of initiatives designed to bolster Emirati women and their contributions to the UAE’s development were approved. As part of the legislation, a media hub will be launched to report on the successes of the nation’s women, while new policies will drive female participation in the UAE’s judicial system. The changes also hope to boost the number of women in leadership positions in a range of industries, as well as the number of females taking part in diplomatic missions. The cabinet also set frameworks for legislation concerning domestic violence, according to Dubai Media Office.
Additionally, the UAE has also made several key moves towards achieving gender quality in recent years, such as introducing equal pay legislation to forming a Gender Balance Council.