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  • 11/27/09
  • 11/27/09
  • Womenuaepoltics

    1. 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. 2. Agenda <ul><li>Executive Summary </li></ul><ul><li>Research Methodology </li></ul><ul><li>Background to Research </li></ul><ul><li>Findings </li></ul><ul><li>Open questions </li></ul>
    3. 3. Executive Summary <ul><li>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 </li></ul><ul><li>Backbone of the thesis : the paper aimed at answering three main questions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why were these elections held? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why has the government chosen such approach to the reform? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are there any obstacles to the already announced future steps of this reform? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Main findings: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It remains to be seen to which extent these limitations will persist </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Open questions : In which direction is the process of widening political participation going in the UAE? </li></ul>
    4. 4. The first ever-held elections in the UAE were analyzed through the study of secondary literature, interviews and an anonymous survey Interviews <ul><li>8 interviews (telephone and personal interviews) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Government officials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Academics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gender expert in the UAE </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>One FNC member </li></ul></ul>Secondary research <ul><li>Analysis of the existing literature in the fields of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Women in the Gulf </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Political systems in the Gulf </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>History of the UAE </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Review of Local newspapers </li></ul><ul><li>Use of Gulf Research Center database </li></ul>Online Survey <ul><li>Development of questionnaire analyzing the general perception of the Emirati society to the elections </li></ul><ul><li>Sent through personal network mainly based in Abu Dhabi </li></ul><ul><li>Sent to UAE nationals only </li></ul><ul><li>Received 22 responses </li></ul>Methodology
    5. 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 <ul><li>The tap of political participation was slowly opened: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Restricted elections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Indirect elections </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The fully flowing tap could be made difficult: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Issues of citizenship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Institutional limitation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gender issues in the UAE </li></ul></ul>
    6. 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 <ul><li>Women show a strong interest in the political development in the UAE: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More clarity and transparency in the election process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Holding political positions due to merit rather than connections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have the right to vote (59% of respondents) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The respondents have very clear idea about how they would like to be represented and which issues they would like to politicians to tackle </li></ul>
    7. 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 <ul><li>Conflict between new and traditional gender roles </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Importance of family structures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clearer roles for women in the private sphere </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Still limited presence of women in the public arena, especially at decision making level, i.e. no women in the Supreme Council </li></ul><ul><li>95% of women who complete high school join university but only 27% of these join the labor market after graduation </li></ul><ul><li>Women did not vote for women (1189 female members of the EC only 1 woman elected) </li></ul><ul><li>Rentier state discourages women to participate actively: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Extremely generous welfare state providing its citizens with education, healthcare, facilitated access to housing, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Both men and women are content and do not seek political change or participation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Paradoxically the modern economy based on oil profits has slightly reinforced cultural barriers for women </li></ul></ul>46 Source: Ministry of Information:2006
    8. 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 <ul><li>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? </li></ul><ul><li>How far can these changes in demand for political participation be conducted by the government? </li></ul><ul><li>Are the existing means of communication with the government sufficient for the citizens to voice their discontent? </li></ul><ul><li>How do Emirati women perceive their role in the political future of the country? </li></ul><ul><li>Why did women not vote for female candidates? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the key factors that would make the women seek for more or less participation? </li></ul>Open Questions