UAE recruits first Emirati women firefighters, after 'gender imbalance'

UAE recruits first Emirati women firefighters, after 'gender imbalance'
It comes after the UAE faced criticism for gender imbalance in some work sectors.
2 min read
09 April, 2019
The women were the first to graduate from the firefighters course in Sharjah [Getty]
The first Emirati women firefighters graduated from the UAE city of Sharjah this week, following criticism about women's rights issues from human rights groups.

Mohammad bin Zayed al-Nahyan welcomed the group of female firefighters at his Abu Dhabi palace, saying a UAE national priority was women's empowerment - after the country faced criticism from human rights groups about women's rights.

Although the UAE has been applauded for some changes to the law by human rights groups, it has recently come under fire after a princess fled the country last year.

In a video plea, she claimed her life was in danger from her family, with human rights groups saying the government was not doing enough to protect abused women.

In January, the UAE was slammed for the absence of women during a ceremony by Vice President and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (MBR), who handed out medals to a man-only group, for their contributions to "gender balance" in the Gulf state.

"The achievements of Emirati women today reaffirm the wise vision of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan (Editor's note: a man), who believed in the importance of the role of women, and their right to work and become key partners in society," Sheikh Mohammed said during the all-male ceremony, according to the state-run news agency WAM.

The Dubai ruler then presentd medals to the three men who won the UAE government's Gender Balance Index for 2018 in three categories: Best Personality Supporting Gender Balance, Best Federal Authority Supporting Gender Balance and the Best Gender Balance Initiative, according to WAM.

The winning trio include the UAE's interior minister, Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who was honoured for enlisting more women into the UAE armed forces. 

The lack of women in the initiative aimed at empowering women was seen by social media users as a major fail, and triggered immediate ridicule by dozens of commentators that has since been picked up by the international press.

"So deluded you can't even see the irony here," Joey Ayoub, a Lebanese activist, tweeted in response to a post by the official Dubai Media Office account.

"I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you, but you forgot to invite WOMEN," pointed out Rianne Meijer, also on Twitter.

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