The UAE handed out awards for gender balance & men won them all

The UAE handed out awards for gender equality & men won them all

At first glance it seemed comical. That The Betoota Advocate had taken over the Dubai government’s official social media account.

How else to comprehend this tweet announcing the winners of an initiative designed to foster gender equality at work?

The winners were exclusively male and it was no parody.

The vice-president of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, presented the awards for “best government entity supporting gender balance”, “best federal authority supporting gender balance” and “best gender balance initiative”. The recipients were all men.

The deputy prime minister and minister of the interior, Lt Gen Sheikh Saif bin Zayed al-Nahyan, was named the “best personality supporting gender balance” for his efforts to implement maternity leave in the military.

“We are proud of the success of Emirati women and their role is central to shaping the future of the country,” another tweet from the official Dubai media office said. “Gender balance has become a pillar in our government institutions.”

And yet a pillar that remained invisible at the award ceremony. Unsurprisingly the absence of women was noted immediately on Twitter and soon enough the UAE’s awards program attracted global headlines.

According to the World Economic Forum’s latest Gender Gap Report the UAE ranked 121st out of 149 countries and 134th in terms of economic participation and opportunity.

According to Human Rights Watch discrimination on the basis of sex and gender was not included in the definition of discrimination in the UAE’s 2015 anti-discrimination laws.

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