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UAE needs More Working Mothers to Benefit Society

United Arab Emirates : 22 April 2010

An article yesterday stated that the UAE birth rate was too low and to increase this for the good of the future of the country more women who needed to work should also be encouraged to have children. To make this possible the current rules regarding maternity leave need to be modified to make them more mother friendly.

Amal al Qubaisi also said that the current laws are a threat to national security because fewer UAE female citizens are having babies and this is already a major concern for the region and at present less than 20% of the overall population comprises of Emiratis. Therefore more than four fifths of the United Arab Emirates population is now from outside the region.

Current laws do not encourage women be able to work in the UAE and have a family so if they cannot financially afford to give up their work they are much less likely to have children. The problem is compounded by the fact that in 2007 the average life expectancy rate had risen by five years from the 1990’s average age of 73 years to a new average age of 78 years. For the same period birth rates fell from an average of 4.4 children per family to just 2.3 children per family according to statistics supplied by the World Health Organization.

Over the last thirty years the number of babies born to Emirati women has fallen dramatically and there is now a call for incentives for married couples to start having larger families again. Last year the average family was 1.9 children and this rate is lower than in many other countries where women are entitled to substantially longer maternity leave entitlements one example cited was Egypt.

In 2008 a law reduced maternity leave for federal employees to just 60 days and those in the private sector are presently entitled to just 45 days. However the Minister of Education and chairman of the Federal Human Resources Authority says a new law is now being drafted that will allow mothers to take up to 100 days unpaid maternity leave after they have availed of the 60 days of paid leave. At present just over half of federal employees are women.

Many are now hoping that this new law will become the first major stepping stone in allowing the regions working mothers a chance to raise their families and continue in the workforce allowing them to maintain their life style and pay for all the added extras that the larger family requires today.

Other suggestions that may be considered are allowing women to work part-time while their families are young, some leave for fathers and new day-care centres at work. At present The National Child Care Project run by the Dubai Women Establishment is advocating the opening of new day-care centres in government office complexes.

Paul Holdsworth, Staff Writer, Gulf Jobs Market News
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