A UN body for women’s empowerment has praised the UAE’s decision to raise the representation of Emirati women in the Federal National Council to 50 per cent.
The directive, by President Sheikh Khalifa, will place the UAE in the top five countries in the world for female representation when it comes in to force in October.
UN under-secretary-general and executive director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, called the decision a “major step forward” for gender equality and women’s empowerment in the UAE.
"I welcome the UAE’s decision, which makes them a pioneer in the region with among the highest representation of women in office globally,” Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
“This means more diverse decision making, tabling of different issues and a strong message to all girls that they too can lead and be anything they want to be.”
Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka noted the progress already made in the UAE in achieving gender balance in the Cabinet as well as in government jobs more broadly. Women currently occupy two thirds of positions in the public sector.
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"It is important to recognise the very significant role played by Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak in the advancement of women's causes both nationally and internationally," said Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka, referring to the chairwoman of the General Women's Union.
Director of the UN Women UAE Liaison Office for the GCC Dr Mouza Al Shehhi said the move would help raise the profile of the UAE regionally and internationally.
"This will reflect positively on the future of Emirati women and their motivation to work and achieve for their country and to represent it, with distinction, on the global stage," she said.
Another prominent UAE woman, ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh, was last year’s president of UN Women.