The UAE Gender Balance Council, established in 2015, is a federal entity responsible for developing and implementing the gender balance agenda in the United Arab Emirates. The responsibilities of the Council include:
* Reviewing current legislation, policies and programs, and proposing or updating new legislation or programs in order to achieve gender balance in the workplace in all fields, including culture.
* Developing programs, plans and policies aimed at reducing the gender gap in the workplace.
* Submitting regular reports to the Council of Ministers pertaining to the achieved progress, initiatives, projects, and requirements of the Council in order to achieve its goals.
* Recommending the implementation of laws, regulations, resolutions, and international agreements related to gender balance, in order to ensure non-discrimination against women.
* Proposing gender balance indexes and submitting them to the Council of Ministers for approval, in addition to seeking to promote the implementation of said indexes in the country in coordination with the local authorities.
* Creating a database related to gender balance in the workplace.
The Gender Balance Council has led and participated in the development of laws and policies that aim at ensuring gender equality in the UAE, some of these successful initiatives include:
* 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, and other benefits.
* In 2018, the UAE Cabinet approved a law on equal wages and salaries for women and men. This was the first legislation of its kind in the region.
* In 2019, an Equal Pay law was implemented to ensure women and men receive the same pay for the same work performed.
* Resulting from multiple gender reforms, the UAE rose 23 ranks in the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) 2019 Gender Inequality Index, to rank 26th globally and first in the Arab world.
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
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 government commitment to the gender balance agenda.