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INSPIRE INCLUSION: Support For Women’s Rights and Skills Accelerate UAE’s Progress

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Pavitra Shetty

Published on March 8, 2024, 11:19:00

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uae. women's day, women rights, freedom, maternity leave, reproductive rights, international women's day,

The global community commemorates International Women's Day on March 8, a day dedicated to acknowledging the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

This year's celebration adopts the theme 'Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress.' The campaign theme, titled 'Inspire Inclusion,' underscores the critical need to address economic challenges faced by women.

Let's delve into how women in the UAE have progressed, supported by government investments in their rights and skills.
The protection of women's rights in the UAE is bolstered by a comprehensive legal framework that upholds gender equality and ensures the well-being of women across various facets of life, including reproductive rights and adoption.

According to the UAE Constitution, women hold equal legal status as men, entitling them to access education, professional opportunities and property inheritance rights.

Reproductive Rights

Regarding reproductive rights, the UAE recognises the significance of women's autonomy and consent, particularly concerning matters such as abortion. Although specific legislation addressing abortion may not be explicitly outlined, the broader legal framework supporting women's rights and autonomy likely extends to decisions concerning reproductive health, including abortion, with a focus on women's consent and welfare.

Moreover, adoption is open to single women in the UAE, reflecting a commitment to supporting women in diverse family structures. This inclusive stance acknowledges the capability of single women to provide nurturing environments for children.

Maternity Leave

Maternity leave constitutes another vital aspect of women's rights in the UAE. The nation acknowledges the necessity of granting adequate time off for women during and after pregnancy to safeguard their health and that of their newborns. Typically, maternity leave in the UAE spans 45 days with full pay.

Some employers may offer extended maternity leave periods as part of their benefits package, thereby providing additional support to women during this critical period. Additionally, women are entitled to additional unpaid leave beyond the initial 45 days if necessary for medical reasons related to childbirth or pregnancy complications.

Education, Business

The UAE demonstrates a noteworthy commitment to gender equality in education, with more women than men completing secondary education and pursuing higher education, including in STEM fields. This emphasis on education ensures equal opportunities for personal and professional development for women.

Moreover, women actively participate in various sectors of the economy, including business and government. The UAE has implemented policies to promote women's participation in both the private and public sectors, ensuring equal access to economic resources and leadership positions.

In the UAE, women possess the freedom to own property and secure mortgages, with approximately 30 per cent of all real estate in Dubai owned by women. This reflects the country's dedication to economically empowering women and ensuring their financial independence.

Women's representation in government and diplomacy is significant in the UAE, with women holding leadership roles in parliament and serving as ambassadors and consuls general. This representation underscores the UAE's commitment to gender balance and empowerment across all levels of governance and international relations.

Furthermore, women in the UAE are making substantial contributions to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields, showcasing their expertise and leadership in areas such as space exploration, engineering and technology. The UAE's support for women in STEM underscores its dedication to advancing innovation and knowledge-based industries with gender-inclusive participation.

The UAE's adherence to international conventions and treaties, such as the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), highlights its commitment to aligning its policies with global standards for women's rights and empowerment.

Overall, the UAE's legal framework and initiatives reflect a holistic approach to protecting and promoting women's rights, encompassing reproductive rights, education, economic participation, political representation, and contributions to STEM fields.

The UAE government's efforts to invest in women's rights, skills, and economic empowerment align with the theme of 'Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress' for International Women's Day 2024. These initiatives continue to inspire inclusion and accelerate the progress of women, contributing to their social, economic, cultural, and political achievements.

(The writer is a legal associate at Dubai-based NYK Law Firm)

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