United Arab Emirates celebrates Emirati Women’s Day

Women make up 66% of the workforce, and more women than men are working in the health, education and banking sectors.

People walk outside The Dubai Mall in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 12, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS/SATISH KUMAR/FILE PHOTO)
People walk outside The Dubai Mall in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 12, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/SATISH KUMAR/FILE PHOTO)

Some 66% of the workforce in the United Arab Emirates are women, while the number of women working in the health, education and banking sectors is much greater than that of men, according to official numbers released by the UAE. 

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The statistics announced in the UAE for the 7th annual Emirati Women's Day, observed every year on August 28, show that there are 21,000 female business owners, with the sector making up 10% of the Emirates’ total private sector. The business owners manage projects worth more than 40 billion dirhams (nearly $10.9 billion), and represent 15% of the boards of directors of the chambers of commerce and industry groups in the country. 

As for the distribution of positions in government institutions by gender, women represent 46.6% of the total workforce and occupy 66% of public sector jobs, 30% of which are in decision-making positions, and 15% in technical and academic roles. 

The proportion of female government ministers is 27%, and the Cabinet includes nine women out of 32 ministers, with women leading the ministries of Tolerance, Happiness and Youth. Shamma bint Suhail bin Faris Al Mazrui has also held the position of Minister of State for Youth Affairs since the announcement of the new cabinet position in February 2016, becoming at the age of 22 the youngest government minister in the world. 

An official report issued by the World Bank, "Women, Business Activities and the Law 2021," indicated that the UAE ranked first in the Middle East in the field of gender balance. 

 Women walk past the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, June 11, 2021 (credit: REUTERS/CHRISTOPHER PIKE) Women walk past the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, June 11, 2021 (credit: REUTERS/CHRISTOPHER PIKE)

Statements regarding Emirati Women's Day

The report noted that, according to the directives of former President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the representation of Emirati women in the Federal National Council seats rose to 50% beginning with elections in 2019. Emirati women occupy several positions in the Foreign Affairs Ministry and International Cooperation and, as of 2019, some 234 Emirati women serve in the diplomatic and consular corps at the Foreign Ministry's headquarters, in addition to 42 women working in the diplomatic corps in the UAE's foreign missions; there are seven female ambassadors.

The report showed that 34% of the workers in the "Probe of Hope" project - established to explore Mars - are women, while the percentage of women researchers is 80%.

The report also showed that the literacy rate for females is 95.8%, while 95% of female secondary school graduates continue studying in institutions of higher education, compared to 80% for males.

Some 77% of Emirati girls enroll in secondary schools after elementary school, while Emirati women constitute 70% of university graduates. Some 56% of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation majors who graduate from public universities are female.

There are no official numbers on the rate of violence or persecution of Emirati women, while statistics indicate that the UAE has one of the highest divorce rates in the Middle East, reaching 30%.

“August 28 is a holiday for Emirati women,” Maryam Al Mulla, director of membership at the Dubai Press Club, told The Media Line. "Everything that has been achieved for Emirati women was thanks to the confidence of the ‘mother of the Emirates,’ Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak - one of the wives of the founder of the Emirates, Zayed bin Sultan - who was the first to take these steps, and now we are celebrating it."

"Leaders give women all the support they need; here in the UAE there is no difference between a man and a woman, and the main criterion for selection is competence only," she added.

"Leaders give women all the support they need; here in the UAE there is no difference between a man and a woman, and the main criterion for selection is competence only."

Maryam Al Mulla

Fadila Al-Muaini, editor of the Emirati newspaper Al-Bayan, told The Media Line: "Emirati women have received all the support they need, and now Emirati women are in high international positions and contribute significantly to the Emirati renaissance."

Muaini continued: "I am talking about the media field in which I work. The career of female media workers spanned decades and, despite the difficulty of media work, the support from the leadership and the state was great, and it facilitated that and changed the view of society, and society no longer differentiates between men and women."

"Emirati women have received all the support they need, and now Emirati women are in high international positions and contribute significantly to the Emirati renaissance."

Fadila Al-Muaini

"It is not possible to forget the role of the ‘mother of the Emirates,’ who was the first to start these steps; she struggled to eradicate illiteracy at the time and she got what she wanted, and today, thanks to the support of our leadership, we are better off than any other women," Muaini added.

Aisha Al Suwaidi, head of the planning department at the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency, told The Media Line that "Emirati women have played an important role in preserving the environment since ancient times, and the country's approach and vision in investing in the citizen without discrimination between men and women and focusing on empowering Emirati women as an engine for sustainable development has strengthened its role in participating in support of sustainable development and its full participation in decision making.”

"Thanks to the efforts of the wise leadership in the country and the empowerment of women in this field, Emirati women have now made many achievements in this field, and they also contribute significantly to achieving the sustainable development process that the country is witnessing," she said. 

Engineer Kholoud Al Mazrouei, deputy project manager at Etihad Rail, told The Media Line: "I feel proud to be the first Emirati female engineer who contributed to the development of the national and strategic project, Etihad Rail."

She added, "Today, we find a group of female engineers who have joined the company within the first phase operating team as well as the project's second phase team, thanks to the company's policy that allowed its female employees the opportunity to participate and join a set of programs and training courses specialized in enhancing leadership skills and building expertise in various professional fields, as well as many specialized and professional programs that will build and refine the personality of women and simulate their needs in the work environment.”