The United Arab Emirates is at the forefront of the countries advocating women’s rights at the global level through a series of initiatives and programmes aimed at supporting and empowering women in many societies and countries.
The UAE tops advanced ranks on many global indicators related to supporting women’s rights and empowerment, as well as its unprecedented achievement globally in achieving equality in parliamentary representation during the 16th legislative chapter of the Federal National Council.
On the UAE’s efforts supporting women at the global level, the initiatives and efforts of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union (GWU), President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF), should be highlighted first as Sheikha Fatima is considered the first champion of women worldwide thanks to her efforts in this field.
For many years, Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, sponsored, presided over and supported a group of specialised conferences in the Arab, international and Islamic worlds to empower women and enhance their stature.
Under the generous patronage of Her Highness, the UAE hosted in October 2019 a ceremony and symposium for the launch of the ‘Arab Document on Women’s Rights in the UAE’, organised by the Federal National Council in cooperation with the Arab Parliament, in appreciation of the pioneering role of the UAE and its record of civilisational achievements in the process of empowering women.
Since the establishment of the UAE federation in 1971, the UAE has been keen to join international conventions on women’s issues and protecting their rights, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 2004, the Convention on Working Hours in Industry in 1982, and the Forced Labour Convention in 1982, the International Convention on Labour Inspection in Industry and Trade in 1982, the Night Work (Women) Convention in 1982, the Convention concerning Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value in 1996, and the Abolition of Forced Labour Convention in 1996 And the Convention on Minimum Age for Admission to Employment, in 1996.
The UAE has a strong and growing relationship with UN Women, as it was a member of the UN Women Executive Board between 2013 and 2018, and assumed the presidency of the Executive Council of UN Women in 2017.
The UAE has provided the UN Women – since its inception in 2010 – with financial support amounting to about US$26 million, to strengthen its efforts to empower women worldwide, make the country ranked first in the Arab world and tenth in the world.
The UAE opened a liaison office for the UN Women in Abu Dhabi in 2016, under the generous patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, and in partnership with the General Women’s Union.
Since then, UN Women Liaison Office for the GCC has launched the “Women Peace and Security Training Programme”. The programme aims to prepare female military officers for UN peacekeeping operations and increase the pool of female military officers (both in terms of numbers as well as geographic diversity), create peer-to-peer networks among female military officers to provide support during future deployments and drive the strategic objectives of UN Security Council resolution 1325, with particular attention to the importance of capacity building and training.
Education is considered essential for women’s economic empowerment, and according to the World Economic Forum 2014 report on the gender gap, the UAE has been able to achieve equality between men and women in educational attainment, as 77% of Emirati women enrol in higher education, representing 70% of university graduates.
During its membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council, the UAE highlighted its fundamental belief that women and men are equal partners in society, promoting the equal right to education by every girl. In June 2017, the UN Human Rights Council unanimously passed a draft resolution put forth by the UAE during the 35th session of the Council in Geneva on the right of girls to receive an education. The resolution called upon states to eliminate obstacles to girls’ education, including discriminatory policies, poverty, tradition, religious considerations, or financial hardship. It also called for additional action to ensure the safety of girls outside the school perimeter against sexual violence and threats posed by terrorist groups.
The UAE also initiated a joint statement by 75 countries at the Human Rights Council in June 2014, which condemned attacks on girls because they attend or wish to attend school. The UAE led in the unanimous adoption by the Council in September 2014 of a resolution to convene a panel discussion at the Council’s session in June 2015 to share lessons learned and best practices on realizing the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl.