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Tue 10 Feb 2015 06:15 PM

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UAE sets up new council to tackle gender gap

Sheikh Mohammed reveals plans to establish the UAE Gender Balance Council to promote role of women

UAE sets up new council to tackle gender gap
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum. (AFP/Getty Images)

The UAE on Tuesday announced plans to launch a new council to boost its efforts to close the gender gap and boost the role of women in building the future of the country.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE's Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, revealed plans to establish the UAE Gender Balance Council.

The federal entity will be chaired by Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, president of Dubai Women Establishment and wife of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Sheikh Mohammed made the announcement during the second day of the Government Summit in Dubai.

Sheikh Mohammed said: "I am happy to be part of this discussion. We, in the United Arab Emirates, are keen to enable woman and put her in the right position. What we had discussed in this session will not end here."

Sheikha Manal thanked Sheikh Mohammed for his directives to form the council, saying work will begin immediately to draft and articulate the new council's frameworks, processes and strategies.

She said that equity between genders is a key element for societies' success and prosperity and a prerequisite to achieve happiness, security and stability of its members.

She added: "The impact of a significant female presence in leadership roles has wide-ranging benefits on the economy, on governance, and on society at large. The UAE has always worked to dismantle barriers that create tension between the genders. We have a great opportunity to uncover new paths that we may walk on together."

Last year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said Saudi Arabia and the UAE were two of the most improved countries in efforts to close the gender gap although both still remain near the bottom of its Global Gender Gap Report 2014.

It said the most improved country relative to its starting point nine years ago for economic participation and opportunity was Saudi Arabia while the UAE was the most improved nation for political empowerment.

However, the report painted a gloomy picture overall for the Gulf region, with Kuwait ranked highest at 113rd out of a total of 142 countries examined.

The UAE, at 115th, fell in the rankings but "shows major improvement relative to its past performance on economic and political participation" and remained the second highest-ranked country in the region.

Qatar (116) Bahrain (124) Oman (128) and Saudi Arabia (130) completed the rankings of Gulf countries while the region is also home to the lowest-ranked country in the index, Yemen, which, at 142nd, which has remained at the bottom of the index since 2006.