Gender equality steadily improving in UAE

Author: PM Editorial | Date: 02 Dec 2015

World Economic Forum publishes 2015 Global Gender Gap Index

The UAE is leading the way among its neighbours on gender equality but still has a long way to go, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2015.
Year-on-year improvement has meant the UAE’s equality index score has risen to 0.646 (where zero represents total inequality and one total equality) since the report began in 2006. Iceland was the top nation, with a score of 0.881.
In the ‘education’ and ‘life expectancy’ categories, the UAE scored above the average of the 145 countries included in the index. However, its scores for ‘economic participation and opportunity’ and ‘political empowerment’ contributed to an overall ranking of 119th place.
Oliver Cann, director of public engagement at the World Economic Forum, said: “While the Nordic nations continue to act as role models in terms of their ability to achieve gender parity, some of the biggest absolute and relative improvements of the past 10 years have come from countries lower in the rankings.
“The most improved countries relative to their own starting points ten years ago are Saudi Arabia for economic participation and opportunity, Burkina Faso for educational attainment, Georgia for health and survival, and UAE for political empowerment.”
Despite the improvement, UAE’s political empowerment score is still relatively low because only one in five positions in parliament are occupied by women and there has never been a female head of state.
The ‘economic participation and opportunity’ category is also an area of strong gender disparity, as the estimated average income per person in the UAE for men is US$40,000 but for women it is just US$23,668. Only one in 10 legislators, senior officials or managers are female.
But the gap is much closer in other industries. The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) 2014 Salary Survey found average base salaries for women of US$53,222 in the UAE, which were 97 per cent of those for men (US$54,938).
The UAE outscored its neighbouring GCC members: Qatar was ranked 122nd, with Saudi Arabia following at 134, Oman at 135 and Yemen placed last at 145.