The UAE Government provides specific services for the benefit of women. Services range from providing cancer screening to social assistance; from providing taxi booking service to counselling on domestic matters.
The UAE observes Emirati Women’s Day on 28 August, the day of the foundation of General Women’s Union. Observation of this day aims to hail the efforts of Emirati women who play different roles; from a mother to a pilot and a leader and lead in building the nation. All government and private organisations celebrate this day.
Women in politics
Among the ministers of the UAE government, 9 are women. Women ministers handle the new portfolios of tolerance, happiness, youth and food and water security. The Minister of State for Youth Affairs, Shamma bint Sohail Faris Al Mazrui was 22 years old when she took office in early 2016.
The participation of women in the UAE Cabinet is amongst the highest in the world, reflecting the strong position reached by the Emirati women. This way, the UAE empowers and promotes the political inclusion of all.
As for the distribution of positions in government institutions by gender, women make up 66 per cent of the public sector workforce. 30 per cent women are in leadership roles and 15 per cent are in technical and academic roles. Read more facts related to the women in the UAE.
The step reflects the country's future approach aimed at achieving full empowerment of Emirati women and ensures women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political life.
In the elections for the Federal National Council (FNC) held on 3 October 2015, there were 78 women candidates (23.6 per cent of the total).
Her Excellency Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi was elected as the President of the Federal National Council, making her the first woman to chair a parliamentary institution at the regional level.
Women in the diplomatic corps
Women make up 30 per cent of the diplomatic corps, where they occupy 234 positions, 42 working on missions abroad, and 7 being ambassadors. The UAE has started appointing women as ambassadors ever since 2009.
The UAE recognises and values unpaid domestic work of women through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household.
To ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action, the National Strategy for Empowerment of Emirati Women aims at providing healthcare services to woman in order to enhance her body and psychological health. The strategy provided mechanisms to achieve this goal:
obtaining healthcare services to enhance woman health;
Giving more attention to healthcare needs of women in remote areas;
enhancing health awareness programs for women in different ages and all over the UAE;
establishing mechanisms and programs to enhance psychological health of women in all ages;
Education for Emiratis is free in public schools, colleges and universities. The UAE govern focuses on elimination of gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including women and persons with disabilities. Article 17 of the UAE's Constitution and Article 1 of Federal Law No. 11 of 1972 concerning Compulsory Education provide that education is compulsory at primary stages and free of charge at all stages for citizens in the UAE.
Aiming to bring the compulsory school-leaving age more in line with many other advanced countries across the world, the UAE Cabinet approved a new law in July 2012. This law makes it compulsory for Emirati children to start schooling at the age of 6 and remain in school until they have completed Grade 12 or reach the age of 18, whichever occurs first.
Empowerment of women in the UAE had started in 8 February 1973 when the first women's meeting in the UAE, 'The Renaissance of Abu Dhabi Women Association' was held. The foundation of similar associations began in other emirates. Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak envisioned the need to cope with the unitary ideology of her husband, the late Sheikh Zayed who was the Founding Father of the UAE and established General Women's Union in 1975 joining all women associations in the UAE.
Since then, the UAE has implemented a number of initiatives for the economic empowerment of women in the UAE. In December 2012, the Government issued a decision on the mandatory membership of Emirati women in the Boards of Directors of federal bodies, companies and institutions.
Women in the UAE have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws. Women business-owners account for 10 per cent of the total private sector in the UAE. They run projects worth more than AED 40 billion and constitute 15 per cent of the members of the boards of directors of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
National Strategy for Empowerment of Emirati Women
On 8 March 2015, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Chairwoman of General Women's Union (GWU) launched the National Strategy for Empowerment of Emirati Women in the UAE for 2015-2021 (WAM). The strategy provides a framework for government, private sector and civil society organisations to establish work plans to position the UAE among the most advanced countries in the area of women's empowerment.
The strategy contains four basic priorities:
maintaining the sustainability of the Emirati women's achievements and continue achieving further gains
maintaining the social fabric and cohesion through integrating the roles between men and women in order to build a strong and cohesive society able to cope with emerging changes
providing a decent and safe social welfare based on high quality foundations for women
developing the spirit of responsibility and strengthening the position of the UAE's women in regional and international fora.
In Dubai, front seats on the public buses are reserved for women. Some cabins on the public metro and trams are reserved for women.
In Sharjah too, special taxis for women are available. In Sharjah, you can book a taxi by calling 600525252 or book online.
In Abu Dhabi city, parking spaces are reserved for women and are indicated with pink colour.
This way, the UAE aims to provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.
For more information, contact the local transport authorities: