Equality on the FNC is a step towards gender parity

UAE Government’s drive towards equality will set an example for wider society to follow

FUJAIRAH , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Sept 9 , 2015 : FNC election poster of Fatima Al Shara on the road side in Fujairah. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For News. Story by Ruba Haza *** Local Caption ***  PS0909- FNC ELECTIONS01.jpg
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The Federal National Council is a vital cog in the UAE’s system of governance. The body consults on federal draft laws, discusses international treaties and summons ministers for questioning. Most importantly, it gives a voice to the citizens of all seven emirates. Therefore, it is crucial that it is representative of the nation’s society. That is why UAE President Sheikh Khalifa last year approved a plan to ensure 50 per cent of the FNC is female.

As The National reported, Emirati women are now being urged to run for seats ahead of elections in October. Once they do, the UAE will join the likes of Rwanda, Bolivia and Cuba on the list of countries with the highest proportion of female representatives sitting in their parliaments. It is a fitting goal for a nation that has long prioritised gender equality – and one that will be achieved.

Women are playing an increasingly central role in the UAE, as a new report from the International Labour Organisation last week highlighted. They occupy 66 per cent of government jobs and comprise 46 per cent of the workforce, up from 6.2 per cent in the 1980s. That is an extraordinary transformation and an indicator of the importance placed on female empowerment by the UAE's rulers. Indeed, just before Sheikh Khalifa's FNC directive was issued last year, the government outlined plans to encourage more women to enter the judiciary and diplomatic corps.

As women now play leading roles in the public and private sectors – in fields as diverse as law, medicine and engineering – the Government recognises that politics is no different. In addition to the nine female ministers who currently sit in the UAE cabinet, equal representation on the FNC is the next logical step towards gender parity.

The UAE’s leadership has long prided itself on setting a valuable example for the rest of society, its priorities trickling down into everyday life. The rise in women on the FNC is born of a genuine desire for gender equality. All that is now required for this to be realised is for women from far and wide to come forward and leave their mark on the nation.