Equal pay law will empower women at work

For the same jobs now men and women will now draw the same salary, creating a balanced and fairer society

A photo of multi-ethnic businesswomen discussing. Arab Emirati women are in traditional abaya clothes and Caucasian female is in western dress. Professionals are at conference table, in brightly lit modern office discussing business cooperation. Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
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Two years ago, when equal pay for women was addressed in draft legislation that had been approved by the UAE Cabinet, it was already a visionary step towards gender equality. That draft has now become law. And the law sends a clear message about the UAE's prioritisation of social and economic parity and equal empowerment for women.

For the same work, men and women will now draw the same salary. Across the world, women of even one earlier generation but in a vastly different time period, have spent their lives fighting for this important principle.

Equal pay is perhaps the most significant tool to empower women, and in private sector workplaces this will be a boon. This law is a landmark move in many ways. Most importantly, it tells women in no uncertain terms that their talent and skills are as valuable as those of their male colleagues.

It is acknowledgement and proof that the government values the contributions of women in the same way as it does the work done by men.

It is this progressive lens, this deeming equal the contributions of men and women, that has enabled such a historic move to come into play in 2020, as the country plans for where it will be in the next 50 years.

The new law will state that "women shall be granted a wage similar to that of a man if she performs the same work, or another of equal value".

A premise of equality such as this charts the course for the country's future. An important consequence of this move will be how it affects young people and how they grow in the workplace to view the worth of their female colleagues. It will undoubtedly inspire the next generation of the workforce to maintain an attitude of fairness and equal responsibility, with the salary scales not tilted towards any one gender.

The move sends a powerful message about the country's prioritisation of economic empowerment. Particularly for the young, the next generation of women and men graduating from university, this law states clearly the direction of the country and it delivers an assurance to all women in the workforce of a further dismantling of a glass ceiling.

While the UAE government is well aware that more needs to be done in the next 50 years to bridge gender disparity, this step is in line with the country's broader policy

In recent years, there have been plenty of markers that point to the UAE being a progressive nation and making further headway in that direction. The UAE is already ahead when it comes to women in government. There is equality in the Federal National Council that holds 20 female and 20 male elected representatives – topping the global ranking for women in parliament.

While the UAE government is well aware that more needs to be done in the next 50 years to bridge gender disparity, this step is in line with the country's broader policy and initiatives in moving towards a balanced and fairer society. The equal pay law is crucial towards levelling the playing field for women. In the long run, with the country's determination to keep making progress, whether economic or social, this law could be one among a number of efforts to uplift and empower all its people, equally.