UAE: female quotas on boards, gov't agencies, sheik tweets

UAE has highest rate of females in workforce in Gulf

13 December, 18:22

(ANSAmed) - DUBAI, DECEMBER 13 - Company boards and government agencies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) must guarantee female quotas in their appointments, the sheik of Dubai, Mohammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktum, made known via Twitter on Thursday.

''The presence of women on company boards will make decisions more balanced,'' wrote the sheik, who is also the vice president of the UAE. ''Women have proven their worth in many professions, and now we also want their strong presence in institutional decision-making roles.'' Out of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE - the Emirates have the highest rate of female participation in the work force, or 59%, against 42% in Kuwait, 36.4% in Qatar, 34% in Bahrain, and 22% in Saudi Arabia.

The UAE sheiks have traditionally pursued policies of female integration into the country's cultural and productive apparatus, promoting women's access to education, sports, politics, and the professions. However, just 1.5% of UAE women are appointed to company boards of directors. The 40-member UAE parliament has seven women MPs, and the government has four women ministers.

While details of the new measure are not yet known, women hailed the sheik's announcement, and media commentary was mixed.

''This is the most important piece of news in the history of our organization,'' said the executive director of the Dubai Women Establishment (DWE). ''If it is true that female quotas are a good short-term remedy, they must eventually be substituted by meritocracy,'' The National editorialized, while Gulf News wrote that women will now have to prove they deserve such ''positive discrimination'' in their favor. (ANSAmed).