The UAE’s leadership has called for Emirati women to occupy half of the 40-seat Federal National Council in next year’s parliamentary elections.

UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan issued the directive on 8 December.

The step reflects the country’s future approach “aimed at achieving full empowerment of Emirati women and emphasises their pioneering and effective role in all vital sectors of the UAE”, a statement published by Emirates News Agency (Wam) said.

FNC currently has eight female members, led by Amal al-Qubaisi, who is its chairperson and speaker.

The directive aims to put the UAE among the top countries worldwide in terms of representation of women in parliament, the statement said.

The FNC’s functions include passing, amending and rejecting federal laws.

Emirati women are playing an increasingly important role in the UAE government.

Four of eight new UAE ministers appointed in 2017 are women. They are:

  • Sara al-Amiri: minister of state focusing on advanced sciences
  • Maryam al-Mehair: minister of state (food security)
  • Hessa Buhumaid: minister of community development
  • Noora al-Kaabi: minister of culture & knowledge development