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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

UAE Gender Balance Council seeks to increase female presence in FNC

Council meets to discuss projects for next year and ways to increase international partnerships

Mona Al Marri, Vice President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, chairs a meeting of the council in Emirates Towers, Dubai. Dubai Media Office
Mona Al Marri, Vice President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, chairs a meeting of the council in Emirates Towers, Dubai. Dubai Media Office

The UAE Gender Balance Council is aiming to increase the number of Emirati women candidates in next year’s Federal National Council elections.

The Gender Balance Council met on Saturday to discuss projects planned for next year. Among the initiatives is a plan to improve the UAE’s ranking in the United Nations Development Programme’s Gender Inequality Index, as well as in other global competitiveness indicators, and to increase women’s representation in the FNC. Of the current 40 FNC members, seven are women. And women made up one third of the 252 candidates who ran in the 2015 elections.

Mona Al Marri, vice president of the council and director general of Dubai Media Office, chaired the meeting – the third held this year.

The council’s coming annual budget was presented by Younis Al Khoori, undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance. The ministry and council are looking into developing a proposal for allocating federal budget for gender balance, a statement from Dubai Media Office said.

On Saturday, council members discussed ways to strengthen international partnerships, and reviewed recent activities aimed at enhancing strategic co-operation locally and internationally, including a meeting with Abu Dhabi's Executive Council as well as the Women Empowerment team.

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Ms Al Marri said the council, in collaboration with the Prime Minister’s Office, is also working on the second Gender Balance Index for the federal government. The index will be based on three pillars: decision-making; education and experience; and work environment. Like last year’s index, it will include three categories: the best personality supporting gender balance, the best federal authority supporting gender balance and the best gender balance initiative.

The UAE Gender Balance Council was formed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, in 2015 to promote the role of Emirati women in the workplace, at home and internationally. Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the council's president.

Since its establishment, the council has launched a series of initiatives to increase women participation in the community, in accordance with the goals set in UAE Vision 2021.

This year, the UAE Cabinet approved a law on wages and gender equality, to confirm the rights of women as equal partners of men in achieving the country’s overall development.

Studies have shown the UAE ranks second in the Middle East for "wage equality for similar work", but it fares less well in global gender rankings.

The Emirates ranked 120 out of 144 countries overall in the 2017 World Economic Forum's (Global Gender Gap Report.

Yet it was closing the gender gap, according to the report, bucking the global trend of a widening disparity in areas such as health, education, politics and the workplace for women.