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Womenuaepoltics

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  • 11/27/09
  • 11/27/09

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  • 1. Dubai School of Government Gender and Public Policy Research Seminar Marie Lillo Political Participation of Women in the UAE 20% 20/04/2008
  • 2. Agenda
    • Executive Summary
    • Research Methodology
    • Background to Research
    • Findings
    • Open questions
  • 3. Executive Summary
    • Methodology : as part of a Master‘s thesis, the first ever-held elections in the UAE were analyzed through the study of secondary literature, interviews and an anonymous survey
    • Backbone of the thesis : the paper aimed at answering three main questions:
      • Why were these elections held?
      • Why has the government chosen such approach to the reform?
      • Are there any obstacles to the already announced future steps of this reform?
    • Main findings:
      • The characteristics of the role and life of women in the UAE reflect the nature of the Emirati society: a balance between modernity and tradition
      • Currently, the limitations to the role of women in the public sphere do not allow for the tap of political participation to be “fully flowing”
      • It remains to be seen to which extent these limitations will persist
    • Open questions : In which direction is the process of widening political participation going in the UAE?
  • 4. The first ever-held elections in the UAE were analyzed through the study of secondary literature, interviews and an anonymous survey Interviews
    • 8 interviews (telephone and personal interviews)
      • Government officials
      • Academics
      • Gender expert in the UAE
      • One FNC member
    Secondary research
    • Analysis of the existing literature in the fields of:
      • Women in the Gulf
      • Political systems in the Gulf
      • History of the UAE
    • Review of Local newspapers
    • Use of Gulf Research Center database
    Online Survey
    • Development of questionnaire analyzing the general perception of the Emirati society to the elections
    • Sent through personal network mainly based in Abu Dhabi
    • Sent to UAE nationals only
    • Received 22 responses
    Methodology
  • 5. It remains to be seen whether the tap of political participation will ever be fully flowing Background of the Thesis The Emirati leadership has shown a great will to modernise “ Reform on tap” Focus of this discussion Political participation
    • The tap of political participation was slowly opened:
      • Restricted elections
      • Indirect elections
    • The fully flowing tap could be made difficult:
      • Issues of citizenship
      • Institutional limitation
      • Gender issues in the UAE
  • 6. Women in the UAE show a strong interest in the elections and have clear opinions and a desire to get involved in politics, which could push further the opening of the tap “ People should be able to hold high positions based on how much information they hold and not who they know” “ We should have freedom of expression, speech and media” “ I am not clear about the members experience, education, background and general awareness and don’t trust that they should have more authority ” “ The FNC should, bring about legislative and government change” Responses from Interviews Women as Active Agents in Society 77% Survey results Men Women 23% “ The process was non-transparent and unequal ” Survey respondents “ People should be in power because of their capabilities not because of who they know” 23 Key findings
    • Women show a strong interest in the political development in the UAE:
      • More clarity and transparency in the election process
      • Holding political positions due to merit rather than connections
      • Have the right to vote (59% of respondents)
    • The respondents have very clear idea about how they would like to be represented and which issues they would like to politicians to tackle
  • 7. However cultural barriers and the rentier state could be obstacles to having a fully open tap to political participation Limitations to the Role of Women in the Public Sphere Cultural Barriers Limitations to the participation of women in the public sphere Rentier State
    • Conflict between new and traditional gender roles
      • Importance of family structures
      • Clearer roles for women in the private sphere
    • Still limited presence of women in the public arena, especially at decision making level, i.e. no women in the Supreme Council
    • 95% of women who complete high school join university but only 27% of these join the labor market after graduation
    • Women did not vote for women (1189 female members of the EC only 1 woman elected)
    • Rentier state discourages women to participate actively:
      • Extremely generous welfare state providing its citizens with education, healthcare, facilitated access to housing,
      • Both men and women are content and do not seek political change or participation
      • Paradoxically the modern economy based on oil profits has slightly reinforced cultural barriers for women
    46 Source: Ministry of Information:2006
  • 8. Taking into consideration the role of women, it will be interesting to analyze how the journey of political participation continues for the UAE Political discontent Women’s political behavior
    • Will the evolution of the nature of the rentier state bring about changes in the level of and demand for political participation in the UAE?
    • How far can these changes in demand for political participation be conducted by the government?
    • Are the existing means of communication with the government sufficient for the citizens to voice their discontent?
    • How do Emirati women perceive their role in the political future of the country?
    • Why did women not vote for female candidates?
    • What are the key factors that would make the women seek for more or less participation?
    Open Questions