On Sunday, several UAE government officials received awards in recognition of their efforts to foster gender equality in the workplace.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice-president of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, honored the winners of the Gender Balance Index 2018 with certificates and medals.
The ceremony recognized the government's diverse initiatives and programs that promote gender equality.
Sheikh Mohammed handed out awards to the finance ministry, the federal competitiveness and statistics authority, and the ministry of human resources. The winners won awards in the categories of "best government entity supporting gender balance," "best federal authority supporting gender balance," and "best gender balance initiative," respectively.
All winners were represented by male awardees.
Additionally, Lt Gen Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, deputy prime minister and minister of the interior, was named as the "best personality supporting gender balance" for introducing maternity leave in the country's military.
During the ceremony, Sheikh Mohammed lauded the success Emirati women have achieved.
"The excellent achievements made by Emirati women demonstrates the wise vision and far-sightedness of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, who believed in the important role of women and their right to work and become main and effective partners in the country's comprehensive development," Gulf News quotes him as saying.
Sheikh Mohammed also recognized the efforts of the Gender Balance Council, a federal entity headed by Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, but the latter did not win an award, according to Business Insider.
Women's empowerment in the UAE
The country has been actively working towards empowering women and promoting gender equality.
In 2012, the UAE passed a law calling for mandatory female representation on all boards of government corporations and bodies. It was the first law of its kind in the Arab world.
Subsequently, women now hold 66 percent of government jobs in the UAE, 30 percent of which are senior decision-making positions.
In 2016, the UAE inaugurated a new UN Women Liaison Office to help strengthen UN Women's partnership with the GCC countries and accelerate efforts for gender equality.
Additionally, 95 percent of UAE female high-school graduates pursue further education at tertiary-level, compared with 80 percent of men.
In December 2018, the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked the UAE as the top country in the Middle East and North Africa for wage equality.