The UAE has secured the first spot in the Middle East and North Africa region rankings in the World Bank’s newly released 2021 ‘Women, Business and the Law’ (WBL) report. This comes after the implementation of a series of revolutionary reforms over the past several years. H.H. Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, highlighted 20 legislative reforms focusing on increasing women’s economic participation. Sheikha Manal said these achievements are vital additions to the UAE’s scientific, economic and social accomplishments that are set to drive the country’s fast-track progress in the next 50 years, reported Emirates News Agency.
UAE leaders have worked hard towards granting equal opportunities to women in the private and public sectors. Recent amendments to labour laws include equal pay for men and women, equal access to employment and promotional opportunities, prohibition of the termination of women’s contracts due to pregnancy and the removal of all restrictions on women working night hours, especially in hazardous industries such as agriculture, mining and transportation among others. Additionally, the definition of the head of the household in the UAE has also been revised, now allowing women to be the “head of the family”. The aim is to eradicate barriers to their progress altogether and protect the rights of women on a whole.
Sheikha Manal expressed her gratitude to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan; His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai; His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces; and H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, for their unwavering commitment to women empowerment and increasing female representation at all levels. The annual report comprises eight indicators structured around women’s interactions with the law. These include mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets and pension.