UAE Gender Balance Council launches Gender Balance Guide

DUBAI, 12th February, 2017 (WAM) -- The UAE Gender Balance Council launched on Sunday the ‘Gender Balance Guide: Good Practices for UAE Organisations’, a comprehensive set of guidelines and concrete actions aimed at helping UAE organisations adopt a gender-sensitive approach at their workplaces.

The official launch of the guide took place at the World Government Summit, currently being held in Dubai. A consultation phase led by the Gender Balance Council will follow in the upcoming months, to collect the suggestions from many organisations.

Developed in collaboration with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, the guide provides benchmarks and concrete steps to balance genders in workplaces among decision-making positions, promote women-friendly working environments and instill gender balance within the policy framework.

H.H. Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, President of the Dubai Women Establishment and wife of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs noted, "The Gender Balance Guide is yet another key initiative of the Gender Balance Council that supports the UAE’s vision for enhancing women’s roles as key partners and contributors in building the nation."

This initiative further strengthens our efforts to reduce the gender gap across all sectors, enhance the UAE’s ranking in global competitiveness reports on gender equality and achieve gender balance in decision-making positions, as well as promote the UAE as a model for gender balance," she added.

"This initiative signals a new phase in the council’s strategy, in which we are strengthening our co-operation with international organisations focussed on women’s empowerment to share best practices and successful experiences. The guide has been developed in partnership with the OECD. Our partnership with the OECD has helped us draw from successful global practices to create a guide that comprehensively addresses various aspects of gender balance policy and implementation in a practical manner," Sheikh Manal added.

The newly launched guide consolidates the steady progress made by the Gender Balance Council in promoting a culture of gender equality in the UAE, Sheikha Manal noted. In 2016, the council launched the UAE Gender Balance Programme, a comprehensive framework to review legislation and national policies that support women, which has been in effect since last November.

The council’s efforts led to the UAE government introducing legislative amendments to extend maternity leave for Federal Government employees to three months paid leave.

Regarding the guide, Vice President of the UAE Gender Balance Council Mona Al Marri said, "The Gender Balance Guide marks a new milestone in the UAE’s progress towards gender equality. This guide will help organisations instill a culture of gender balance in their operations and strategic framework. This important new initiative is closely aligned with the UAE Vision 2021’s aim to enhance the participation of women in the economy. The guide highlights best practices and policies that can help federal and government institutions in achieving their gender balance targets, contributing to the UAE’s vision of becoming one of the world’s top 25 countries in the UNDP Gender Inequality Index."

Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD Mari Kiviniemi, said, "The OECD believes that gender equality is imperative to inclusive growth. The Gender Balance Guide is an important achievement. Its successful implementation across public and private sectors will assist the UAE in becoming an example for gender balance at the workplace. The guide is an important tool for providing concrete indications to leaders and decision makers, as well as managers and practitioners. The OECD is ready to accompany the UAE on this path, not only to exchange good practices, but also to learn from the UAE’s rich experience, because it has a lot to share with us and with the world."

The guide recommends steps to promote work-life balance, family-friendly work practices and women’s leadership development, as well as gender impact assessments and gender budgeting.

It also highlights policies, practices and measures to promote flexibility, transparency, and fairness in public and private employment systems, and suggests approaches to ensure equal pay and job opportunities for women and men in public and private sector entities.