The United Arab Emirates’ honored the 2018 winners of its “Gender Balance Index” awards on Sunday. They’re all men.
The awards recognize gender equality in the government. They’re divided into three categories: “Best Personality Supporting Gender Balance,” “Best Federal Authority Supporting Gender Balance” and “Best Gender Balance Initiative,” according to a press release from the government.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum gave the three awards respectively to the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Human Resources and the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority (FCSA). Men accepted each honor on behalf of the government organizations.
“We are proud of the success of Emirati women and their role is central to shaping the future of the country,” Maktoum said in a Sunday press release, adding, “Gender balance has become a pillar in our governmental institutions.”
Maktoum “recognized the efforts” of one woman ― Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the head of the Gender Balance Council and wife of a deputy prime minister. She did not receive an award.
People on Twitter were quick to criticize the Emirati government for what seemed to be a major oversight.
“Wow, did The Onion hack y’all?” one user wrote, referring to the satirical website.
UAE’s Gender Balance Council responded to the criticism in a statement to HuffPost Monday afternoon.
“During the Index’s second edition, recipients of the Index’s awards happened to be entities led by men,” the statement said in part. “This is indicative of the great and extraordinary progress we have made as a nation, where men in the UAE are proactively working alongside women to champion gender balance as a national priority.”
This is the second year the UAE has given out awards for the Gender Balance Index. One woman was honored during the 2017 ceremony ― Minister of State for International Cooperation and Chairwoman of the FCSA Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashimy received the “UAE Gender Balance Seal” award.
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This article has been updated to include a statement from UAE’s Gender Balance Council.