In 2018, the UAE Cabinet approved a law on equal wages and salaries for women and men. The law is in line with the government's objective to ensure the protection of women's rights and support their role in the process of national development. This was the first legislation of its kind in the region.
Below are provisions of the UAE Labor Law addressing gender equality:
* The law prohibits termination of women's contract because of pregnancy.
* UAE labor law prohibits discrimination between employees, which would weaken equal access to employment and promotion opportunities and continue to have equal rights. The law also prohibits gender discrimination in similar jobs.
* All previous legal restrictions on women's work, including working at night hours, working in a broad and subjective category of jobs deemed hazardous, arduous or morally or socially inappropriate and women working in the mining, construction, manufacturing, energy, water, and agriculture and transportation sectors has been removed to give women the right to work in these industries.
In 2006 the UAE Cabinet approved a resolution on nurseries in government entities. In 2017, another resolution amended maternity leave to 12 weeks of paid leave. All of the above legislations have implications for women working in the culture and media sectors and serve to remove barriers to access and opportunity.
As of October 2020, Article 53 of Federal Decree Law No.11 for the year 2008 on Human Resources in the Federal Government as amended by Federal Decree Law No. 9 for the year 2011, and Federal Decree Law No. 17 for 2016 permanent public sector employees are eligible for 3 months of paid maternity leave to new mothers. Article 54 of this same law grants 3 days of paid paternity leave to new fathers. Additional allowances exist to support new mothers after returning to work following maternity leave, such as paid time off for nursing, allowance for unpaid leave, etc.
As of October 2020, the law mandates private sector employees receive a minimum of 45 days of paid maternity leave. As per Article 74 of the UAE Labor Law, private sector employees are also eligible for 5 paid days of parental leave. Fathers in the private sector are eligible for 5 paid days of paternity leave, which can be taken at any time within the first six months of their child's birth.
Many of the legislative and programmatic reforms cited above were recently implemented. Within the past 5 years, the above reforms have driven the increase of gender balance in the economy and in decision making positions.
To date, 51 nurseries have been opened in government offices.
As of October 2020, the UAE became the first Arab nation to introduce a parental leave, through which fathers working in the private sector are entitled to 5 days paid paternity leave after the birth of a child.
Resulting from multiple gender reforms, the UAE jumped 23 ranks in the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) 2019 Gender Inequality Index, to rank 26th globally and first in the Arab world.
Given the recent implementation of the above policy and legislative reforms, evaluation is currently underway. The UAE Gender Balance Council is committed to ongoing review, evaluation, and amendment of policies and programs to ensure all reforms are evidence-based and support leadership commitment to the gender balance agenda.