The Gender Balance Council is making waves this year.

Public sector employees of Ras Al Khaimah, congratulations – you just got your paid maternity leave allowance ramped up to three months.

The emirate’s government announced the news, saying the move was made to show their appreciation and support of working mums-to-be.

It also follows the directives of the UAE Gender Balance Council, which has been tasked with improving gender equality across government agencies.

The council, which was launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, revealed earlier this year that overhauling the country’s mandatory maternity leave of 45 days was one of their key aims.

“We appreciate the leadership’s keenness on improving the status of women to overcome all the challenges that inhibit their active contribution to public life and career. This reflects positively on progress of the community,” Dr Mohammed Abdul Latif, Secretary-General of the Executive Council of RAK, told state news agency Wam.

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The announcement comes just weeks after His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, reportedly issued a new law giving federal government employees three months of paid maternity leave.

(Most government employees around the country typically have 60 days of paid maternity leave under current laws).

According to Article 53 of the amended Law 11, reports the Khaleej Times, women will also be granted two hours a day to breastfeed their newborns until they’re four months old.

The news was confirmed by Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Women Establishment, who celebrated the law change on Twitter.

“Happy to announce the UAE’s 3 month maternity leave. I wish all working mothers prosperity and success in their careers and personal lives,” she wrote.

“We are grateful for our leaderships continuous support in women’s participation leading UAE women to achieve global recognition.”

This follows Sheikh Khalifa’s announcement in September that government employees in Abu Dhabi would receive an extra month of maternity leave, as well as three days of paternity leave for new fathers.

What about the private sector?

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Well, while there’s no word yet on an official law change, Dubai employees have been pressuring private companies in recent months to increase maternity leave from its current 45 days at full pay.

As a result, one private company, Omnicom Media Group MENA, has recently increased their maternity leave to 90 days.

Materials handling provider company Chep also increased their leave period for new mothers to four months, allowing employees to extend it with their assigned paid and unpaid leave days.

Could more law changes be coming?

Well, the government announced in August that they would be reviewing parental laws in order to provide women with a more supportive work environment.

A committee, set up by the UAE Gender Balance Council, revealed last month that they are definitely drafting a new law, and said they have provided some suggestions for how that law may look.

The maternity leave law is being treated as a top priority due to its positive impact on society, according to the Dubai Media Office.

Heading up the Gender Balance Council is Sheikha Manal, who said all sectors “should work together to advocate a unified Federal law for maternity leave”, and added that the UAE government was “working to alter stereotypes about women”.

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Image: Getty