Over the past several years, the Government of the United Arab Emirates has made gender equality and the economic empowerment
of women the main priorities in its policies. By introducing a gender balance council (GBC), the UAE has made major strides
towards achieving womens rights, with social and economic empowerment as a particular focus. The UAE, having made substantial
gains in gender equality internally, has begun a global campaign of supporting womens rights in other countries using its
soft power via foreign assistance. In recent years, the government of the United Arab Emirates has put greater efforts into
improving the rights of women.
The UAEs track record regarding womens rights, particularly with regard to gender equality, has raised questions over the
countrys claims of being a globally tolerant nation. The UAE scores higher than many other states in the Gulf on measures of
gender equality, and UAE has made reforms that have protected womens rights and empowered women across sectors.
UAE has also passed laws against domestic violence, introduced criminal penalties for sexual harassment in the workplace,
removed restrictions on womens work in certain sectors, such as mining, and banned sex-based discrimination in hiring,
including dismissal of pregnant women. The United Arab Emirates has implemented a number of reforms, such as banning sex-
based and gender-based discrimination in the countrys anti-discrimination laws, repealing statutory provisions requiring
women to obey their husbands, clearly affirming the mens legal right to discipline their wives and children, and penalizing
consensual non-marital sex. In 2019, the United Arab Emirates introduced its first set of reforms, ensuring sex equality on
passport applications, and measures that allowed women to lead households.
The 2020 package of reforms builds upon the work that the UAE has been doing since 2019 to prioritize gender equality and
womens economic empowerment. The landmark reform package will encourage other governments to prioritize reform legislation
that aims to decrease gender inequalities and increase economic opportunities for women. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi
Arabia are, for now, leading the way in the Middle East-North Africa region in terms of reforming laws for greater womens
Despite tremendous advances made in the struggle for equality, women continue to experience violence, discrimination, and
institutional barriers to their equal participation in society. Women in industrialized countries face similar challenges at
work and in their homes, contributing to the sex pay gaps of every country. The examples above make clear that gender wage
gaps are not exclusive to the U.S., where women still make 80% of what men make.
We are thus committed to closing the gender wage gap before the end of this Parliament, and addressing labour market
inequalities faced by women, in particular women with disabilities, women of minority ethnicity, women from low socioeconomic
backgrounds, and women with caring responsibilities. While some tools that we need to tackle the gender pay gap properly,
such as Employment and Social Security legislation, remain within the remit of the UK parliament, we will continue to push
for further devolved powers on employment, so the Scottish parliament has the power to enhance the rights to employment which
works for Scotland.