United Arab Emirates

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Women’s ability to exercise their rights depends to a large degree on her legal status in the UAE.[1] Large portions of the female population are comprised of foreign professional women residing temporarily on employment contracts, foreign women employed in the informal sector or as domestic workers (who are particularly vulnerable), or the wives of temporary foreign workers.[2]
The Constitution of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) upholds the principle of equal treatment of all citizens, but does not specifically address gender-based discrimination and contains references that primarily identify women as wives and mothers.[3] As such, the Constitution, as well as other laws, tends to reinforce traditional gender roles, rather than promoting equality between women and men in the UAE.[4] The UAE ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 2004 but has reserved the right to implement Articles 2(6) (inheritance), 9 (discrimination in granting nationality to children), 15(2) (testimony and right to conclude contracts), 16 (discrimination in marriage and family relations), and 29(1) (jurisdiction) in a manner compatible with Sharia.[5] It has not yet ratified the Optional Protocol.[6]


[1] Kirdar (2010) p.518 [2] Idem [3] FIDH (2010) p.4 [4] Idem, p.519 [5] United Nations Treaty Collection (2014); UNICEF (2011) p.1 [6] United Nations Treaty Collection (2014)
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