Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

A mother's right to work, to parent

Sharjah has given new life to efforts to overhaul maternity leave policies in the UAE.

Career or family? For working women in the UAE, it's the ultimate conundrum. "I really don't want to resign" after giving birth, Ruba abu Obeidallah of the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development told The National in April. But, "I don't think I can bounce back to work in 45 days."

Mrs abu Obeidallah faced a tough decision with her second child last year. But thanks to officials in Sharjah, future deliberations will be a little easier.

As we reported yesterday, a new proposal signed into law in that emirate extends to 60 days the legally permitted paid-absence period for new mothers. The measure also provides a one-year post-maternity leave programme which makes it easier for professional women to breast feed their infants by spending time with them during the day. Most encouraging, the law gives fathers three days of paid paternity leave, a progressive policy that underscores the importance of fathers in the lives of children.

In advocating for and successfully implementing the leave extension, officials in Sharjah have given fresh breath to a policy that is frequently discussed in the UAE, but rarely acted upon. Despite the UAE's increasingly progressive approach to labour regulations, Sharjah is so far ahead of the curve in addressing this critical issue. Nationwide, women working in the private sector are still guaranteed only 45 days of paid leave under federal law, with pay rates depending on how long they've been employed. This, according to a UN report released last fall, ranks among the least generous leave policies in the world. Qatar, Syria and Yemen all offer a few days more; Norway, by contrast, allows for an entire year.

Post-natal care and a woman's career should not be mutually exclusive; women can't be asked to give up their professions to raise families. Nor should the Government be content with allowing for nearly half its workforce to vacate top jobs when caring for a newborn.

"Asking women to have more babies doesn't mean discouraging them from working," one female FNC representative said last year. Officials in Sharjah have demonstrated they understand this progressive message.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Ali Benflis, opposition leader and main rival to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika speaks to the press after casting his vote in the presidential elections at a polling station in Algiers on. Former prime minister Benflis ran against Bouteflika in 2004 but lost heavily, charging the vote was rigged 10 years ago and has said fraud will be his ‘main adversary’ during the election. Patrick Baz / AFP Photo

Best photography from around the world, April 17

The National View's photo editors pick the best images of the day from around the world.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr is pictured before the Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England, on March 1, 2014. Glyn Kirk / AFP

New Southampton owner leading club’s resurgence from the shadows

Katharina Liebherr keeping with family tradition and letting others dominate the spotlight

 The new Bentley GT Speed convertible on display at a press event of the New York International Auto Show. Jason Szenes / EPA

In pictures: Hot cars at New York International Auto Show

With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the US car industry. Here are some of the vehicles to be shown in this year’s edition.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National