From introducing equal pay legislation to forming a Gender Balance Council, the UAE has made many moves towards promoting gender equality in recent years – and its latest initiative is no exception. The representation of women in the country’s Federal National Council will be raised to 50% next year, following a decree released on Saturday by President Sheikh Khalifa.
The directive, issued through the UAE Government Communication Office, added that the move would “further empower Emirati women and bolster their contributions to development”. Elections for the latest set of FNC members will be held next year, with half of the seats available allocated to female candidates. 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.
“This historic step is a first in the Arab world and it culminates the full empowerment of the UAE women,” said FNC speaker Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, according to Gulf Business. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, also heralded the news with his multi-million social media followers. “The Presidential decree allocating 50% of the seats in the Federal National Council to women is a great leap forwards in cementing the legislative and parliamentary role of women in our nation’s development,” the royal posted on Twitter and Instagram. “Women are half of our society: they should be represented as such.”
The announcement comes just days after HH Sheikh Mohammed 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.