Sheikha Manal – Progressive women in UAE

Be it politics, social issues, academics, arts or science, the women of the UAE have made their mark in every field and have been instrumental towards making the UAE a place of equality and inclusion.

The UAE is proud to be teeming with women who thrive on making the country even greater.

Sheikh Mohammed has also been active in smashing the glass ceiling for women in the Middle East and in 2015 the government appointed the UAE’s first female speaker along with an Emirati woman being allotted a position in the UN.

Since then, the UAE ranks as the number one region for females in leadership positions according to a study that was conducted in 132 countries and these are just 10 of the thousands of women who are truly making a difference and demonstrating real girl power…

Shiekha Manal, the daughter of daughter of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, mother of 5 and also the president of the UAE’s Gender Balance Council and Dubai Women’s Establishment, this busy royal is constantly on the go.

Much of her time is dedicated to establishing gender equality in the region and has helped to create a guide book for UAE companies on the matter. Not only is she making the workplace for women a fair one, she has also helped extend maternity leave for public sector workers.


On founding the DWE in 2006, she said, ““In today’s rapidly evolving world, roles, responsibilities and expectations are constantly changing, especially for women, acquiring leadership positions and playing an integral part in this process of evolution is no longer a matter of choice but a vital necessity. Every member of our society is required to contribute to making the world a better place.”


Women’s rights in the UAE are often contradictory. The country takes the first position of gender equality in the Gulf, however, it is 49th in the world. It remains a highly traditional culture, even alongside the glitz and glamour of being an expat hub. The country has signed onto, or ratified, progressive international treaties on protecting women, but doesn’t often have the structures to implement changes.

Women have the same constitutional rights as men but remain completely unprotected in key areas. Women can vote, drive, own property, work, and get an education – however, some of these require approval from their guardian. Expat women should keep this in mind because, although places like Dubai and Abu Dhabi can feel very much like home, it pays to do your research on the law and your rights.

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