The UAE has come a long way regarding gender equality. This week, it was announced that the country has jumped 23 ranks on the UN Gender Inequality Index 2019, coming in first in the Arab world and 26th globally.

The rank is published under the Gender Inequality Index, which is a "composite measure reflecting inequality in achievement between women and men in three dimensions: reproductive health, empowerment and the labour market." The index is part of a 366-page report titled The 2019 Human Development Report.

The president of the UAE Gender Balance Council, Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, hailed the latest feat, saying:

"I am proud of this accomplishment which emphasizes our ability to participate in further defining the future on the world stage."

Sheikha Manal told press that the main aim behind the establishment of the council she now heads was to "place the UAE among the world's top 25 countries in the field of gender balance by 2021."

If the country keeps up the work its doing, this goal looks well within reach for next year. 

How did other Arab countries do?

Source: UN

Coming in second in the region after the UAE and 41st globally on the gender inequality index is Libya. 

The two nations were followed by:

  • Qatar (45)
  • Bahrain (47)
  • Saudi Arabia (49)
  • Kuwait (53)
  • Tunisia (63)
  • Oman (65)
  • Lebanon (79)
  • Algeria (100)
  • Egypt (102)
  • Jordan (113)
  • Morocco (118)
  • Iraq (131)
  • Syria (136)
  • Yemen (162)

These results indicate that gender inequality is relatively higher in Arab countries that are less developed in general or struggling with political unrest. 

Globally, the top position in the ranking was held by Switzerland followed by Sweden and Denmark both scoring the second rank on the index. 

The UAE is leading the way in closing the gender inequality gap

In the past few years, the country has been focused on women empowerment by passing several laws that aim to support the equal rights of women. These include the legislation on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Hours of Work law, and the Equal Remuneration Convention.

Last year, the country's Cabinet approved legislation ensuring equal pay for men and women working in the country. 

In 2015, the UAE's Sheika Fatima bint Mubarak inaugurated Emirati Women's Day to recognize and honor the contributions women have made for the nation.

Emirati women hold 66 percent of government jobs in the UAE, 30 percent of which are senior decision-making positions. In fact, women's participation in the UAE Cabinet is amongst the highest in the world.