Dubai: His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has assigned the UAE Gender Balance Council to support steps taken to address the ‘Gender Inequality Index’, which is issued annually by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

In line with the UAE Vision 2021, the move is designed to enhance efforts to drive women’s participation in national development.

Shaikh Mohammad also instructed the Council to oversee the implementation of best practices and processes to ensure federal institutions achieve their gender balance targets, which will support the UAE’s vision to become one of the world’s top 25 countries for gender equality by 2021.

Shaikha Manal Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, President of Dubai Women Establishment (DWE) and wife of Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, praised Shaikh Mohammad for the continuous support extended by him for women’s development in the UAE, which reflects the leadership’s commitment to enhancing the role and contribution of women in building the nation’s future.

Shaikha Manal said that the ‘Gender Inequality Index’ will play an important role in the campaign to restore gender balance and contribute to the development of society as a whole.

Mona Ganem Al Merri, Vice-President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, who chaired the second board meeting on behalf of Shaikha Manal, said the UAE Gender Balance Council will immediately launch three initiatives that will support the efforts of individuals and organisations to enhance gender balance in the UAE.

The first initiative includes documenting the efforts of supporting bodies through the “UAE Gender Balance Seal”, the second involves the implementation of the “UAE Gender Balance Order”, and the third is the establishment of “Best Three UAE Gender Balance Initiatives Award.”

Al Merri said that a number of performance indicators will be used to measure gender equality across government departments and entities, in order to strengthen gender balance in all public sector institutions.

The indicators will also measure the extent to which government entities in the UAE are providing a friendly and supportive environment for working mothers, through a survey conducted by a neutral party. These indicators will be implemented through a comprehensive work plan and activated at a federal level.

Al Merri added: “The recent Federal National Council elections witnessed an increase in female representation from 17.5 per cent to 22.5 per cent, the appointment of a woman as the president of the Council for the first time in the history of the UAE and the Arab world and an increase in female representation in the new cabinet to 27.5 per cent, all of which reflect our leadership’s confidence in the ability of women to contribute to national development and their sincere desire to promote women’s role in decision-making.”

In regards to the UAE’s ranking in international reports on gender balance and equality, Al Merri said: “In 2015, the UAE ranked 19th in the Global Gender Gap Report issued by the World Economic Forum, and first in the GCC and second in the Arab world in the Gender Inequality Index of the Human Development Report, which means that all of us have a huge responsibility to harness our efforts to enhance women’s participation across all sectors, which will further raise the UAE’s ranking in international gender balance reports.”

The UAE Gender Balance Council was established to reduce the gender gap across all government sectors in the country, enhance the UAE’s ranking in global reports on gender equality and promote gender balance in decision-making positions. The Council also aims to launch innovative initiatives and projects that contribute to greater gender balance, which will position the UAE as a model for gender balance and a benchmark for legislation.