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Achieving SDG 5: A Comparative Analysis of Gender Equality Policies in Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates

African Muslim girl
Andrea Hesketh , Jeremy B. Williams - MODUL University Dubai, Centre For Sustainability Through Research And Education (CSRE)


Background – This paper discusses the gender equality policies implemented in two countries; the UAE and Rwanda. Both countries are considered developing nations but are recognised globally for two very different reasons. The UAE has one of the fastest growing and most competitive economies in the world but is ranked 120th on gender equality. Rwanda is in the top five countries in the world for gender equality, but ranks as one of the world's least developed nations (WEF, 2018)

Purpose – The paper looks at how gender equality has been shaped in each country, and briefly discusses the history behind the current gender policies and the role of government in their implementation. In the process, it will provide an overview of the policy design principles in regard to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and what Rwanda and the UAE may learn from each other

Design/methodology/approach – A case study approach is employed, analysing qualitative and quantitative data from government reports, international agencies and NGOs focusing on gender equality issues, along with peer-reviewed journal articles, media reports, and speeches delivered by leading political figures and social commentators. To assist in the analysis of the cases of Rwanda and UAE, the six policy design principles proposed by Daly and Farley (2004) are used to evaluate the progress of each country. Specific research questions to be explored include (i) how historical and cultural factors have helped or hindered progress towards gender equality; and (ii) what contemporary influences are serving to advance or impede progress towards the realisation of Goal 5; gender equality and empowerment of women and girls

Findings – The very different trajectories of the short histories of these two countries have created very different dynamics impacting gender equality. The genocide in Rwanda catapulted gender equality onto the centre stage of its political landscape, while the UAE's progress has been slower but a strong foundation has been established from which women's influence can grow. Both countries are strongly affected by patriarchal traditions that shape policy implementation. The UAE can learn from Rwanda's strong female leadership, constitutional rights and stronger protection of women's rights. Rwanda's economic status has hindered their progress in some areas and if it could obtain the same 21 educational successes the UAE has seen they can benefit greatly. The results of this analysis are also considered within the context of endsmeans framework (Daly 1973), and the impact that female empowerment can have on national (and international) political economies; specifically in relation to finding an environmentally safe and socially just operating space for humanity (Rockstroem et al 2009; Raworth 2017)

Research limitations – The lack of official records on female participation for both UAE and Rwanda is a problem

Originality/value – The academic literature on gender equality in the MENA region is sparse, and there is value in documenting progress since the launch of the SDGs in 2015 which has put gender equality firmly on the political agenda all around the world Keywords: Gender Equality, SDGs, Rwanda, United Arab Emirates

Posted by Andrea Hesketh , Jeremy B. Williams on May 16, 2019 11:12:46 AM

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