Development of Women’s Rights in the United Arab Emirates

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 4
Words: 843
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: PhD


During the medieval times, Arabian countries used Islamic laws to determine the position of individuals within the society. These laws differentiated people according to their religion, age, sex, and status. Therefore, the categories of people depended on the group that the law placed one in. women, men, Muslims and other religions had different legal privileges (Barlas 54). According to the traditional Islamic laws, the women had fewer rights especially in matters pertaining to inheritance, marriage, and divorce. In most of the Arabic countries, the Islamic law that dealt with marriage and divorce were enacted in the twentieth century. On the other hand, the commercial laws and laws on persons were borrowed from the European countries (Barlas 40).

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Discrimination against Women

In the United Arab Emirates, women have always been the spine of the family. Moreover, the women played an important part in the development of the social structure of UAE. The women in United Arab Emirates had to adhere to the Islamic laws that were prominent in the region. The activities of the women were limited to the family. The law viewed women as homemakers. They were responsible for maintaining the family unit and the social structure. Most women were restricted from involvements in the public life by the law However, after Islam was politicized in the 1970s; the debate on gender equality has taken the center stage (Charrad 71).

In the cases of marriage, women were usually the inferior party. The women were betrothed to their partners by their parents. Moreover, the father had the right to choose the husband for his daughter. The parents finalized the marriages without the consent of the women. In cases where he parents were not around, the guardians usually took over the marriage process and concluded it even when the woman was not present (Würth 17). In cases dealing with divorce, the Islamic law provided guides to how the woman was supposed to be treated. In the traditional Islamic laws, a divorced woman is not supposed to receive any maintenance beyond three months after the divorce. The only time that a woman could receive maintenance after divorce was when she was pregnant. In such a case, the support to the woman ended after the nine months of pregnancy (El Azhary 23).

Development of Women Rights

In the United Arab Emirates, the laws changed drastically with the beginning of development in the region. The ongoing changes in the UAE have fueled the change in societal view of women. Modernization process in UAE has lasted for a period of over 36 years. During this period, the government formulated a strategic vision for women in the region. The vision was based on providing the women with the necessary rights and tools to achieve professionalism. The main objective of the strategy was to incorporate the efforts of the women into economic building in the United Arab Emirates. Moreover, the government used this strategy to enhance equality among the different genders. Since the incorporation of the strategy, women in the United Arab Emirates have a bigger role in the public and the private sector (UAE 3).

The United Arab Emirates incorporated the concept of gender equality in their constitution. The government enacted policies and strategies that ensured that the process of women empowerment in the country is smooth. On the other hand, the Emirati women are enthusiastic about the benefits they derive from the process and some of them have become pioneers in different fields. The current constitution in United Arab Emirates provides better protection to women.

Protection of Women in the Current Constitution

Article 25 of the current constitution in United Arab Emirates provides better equality and ensures that all citizens have better security. All person s in the UAE are considered equal before the law (UAE 3). There are no distinctions among the citizens in the United Arab Emirates, in regards to matters of race, nationality, religion, or social status. The government of UAE believes that the women in the current society have an active role to play. Women are partners in the modernization process that is taking place in the United Arab Emirates. The constitution guarantees justice to all while taking into account the tenets of Islam (UAE 3).

The vision to empower women in UAE can be traced back to the time Sheikh Zayed claimed that women had the right to work everywhere (UAE 3). Zayed believed that women could contribute to the development of the society as a whole. However, the right of women working in the United Arab Emirates was to be based on merit rather than favoritism. Like men, the women are required to be qualified before they can occupy any position of power.

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Currently women enjoy equal rights and same legal status as men. Women in the UAE enjoy access to education, social welfare and are free to choose their marriage partners. Moreover, the law guarantees women with access to jobs. The traditional Islamic laws that once oppressed women have been discarded and the constitution now recognizes the rights of women.

Works Cited

Barlas, Asma. Believing Women in Islam. Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Quran. Austin TX: University of Texas Press, 2003. Print.

Charrad, Mounira. States and Women’s Rights: The Making of Postcolonial Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. Print.

El Azhary, Amira. Women of Jordan: Islam, Labor, and the Law. Syracuse: University Press, 2003. Print.

United Arab Emirates (UAE). “Women in the United Arab Emirates: A Portrait of Progress.” Gulf News 13.6 (2007): 1-9. Print.

Würth, Anna. “Women’s Rights in the Arab world: Discrimination against women in the national family laws of select Arab states.” Arab Human Development Reports 42.1 (2008): 5-30. Print.