TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Twitter users mocked authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after it emerged that winners of an initiative designed to foster gender equality in the workplace were won entirely by men.
The UAE's Gender Balance Index awards recognizes progress made in government departments in meeting female participation goals set by the government.
On Sunday, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, awarded medals and certificates to the finance ministry, the federal competitiveness and statistics authority and ministry of human resources, which were all represented by male awardees, Al Jazeera reported.
Al Maktoum insisted that Emirati women and their role were "central to shaping the future of the country".
"Gender balance has become a pillar in our governmental institutions," he said.
At the ceremony, however, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE's deputy prime minister and minister of interior, was recognized as the "best personality supporting gender balance" for his efforts to implement maternity leave in UAE's military.
The other awards were received by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai and finance minister, Nasser bin Thani al-Hamli, minister of human resources and Emiratization, and Abdulla Nasser Lootah, the director general of the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority.
Hundreds of people took to Twitter to mock the announcements, with comments such as: "I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you, but you forgot to invite WOMEN".
"Wow really nailed the diversity there. One of those dudes was wearing gray," said another.
"Mashallah, big win for gender balance," said Hayder al-Khoei, an Iraq-focused Middle East analyst.
"I promise you, this isn't satire," wrote Lebanese blogger Joey Ayoub.
"You can't make this s**t up – UAE's gender equality awards won entirely by men," said Sophie McNeill, a former Middle East correspondent.
"Best Gender Balance Awards Ever," wrote another.
Last year, a report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights painted a grim picture of the human rights situation in the UAE, raising concern over the torture of prisoners, injustice against foreign workers and discrimination of women in the Persian Gulf state.
The report also said that the UN was concerned that it was still possible for a man to prohibit his wife from working and to limit her freedom of movement.