Empower social security beneficiaries, government urged

Abu Dhabi: Social security programmes need to respect the dignity of claimants and empower them to become active citizens rather than passive beneficiaries, members of the Federal National Council told the government on Tuesday.

The House also pressed for setting up a marriage-matching portal, controlled by the government and change the Personal Status Law to address issues related to marriage, divorce, inheritance and other personal affairs in the UAE.

Members of the House were particularly concerned about the steady increase in mixed marriages among Emiratis and foreigners.

They also demanded the government to fast-track setting up of the Family Observatory to address family issues and help Emiratis to lead happy married lives — from choosing the appropriate partners and working together towards establishing a family life without allowing life pressures to get between them.

Hamad Al Rahoumi, a member from Dubai, said there was 42 per cent increase in the number of Emirati men who tied the knot with foreigners over the past 15 years, 41 per cent increase in mixed marriages among Emirati women and foreigners, while the increase in marriages among citizens was just 10 per cent.

Rising divorce cases

Al Rahoumi added that over the last 11 years, there was 41 per cent increase in the number of divorce cases among citizens, 61 per cent increase in divorce among Emirati women and foreigners, and 36 per cent increase in divorce among Emirati men and foreigners.

The member was speaking as the House debated the National Family Policy.

Azza Sulaiman Bin Sulaiman, a member of the FNC from Dubai, said 16 per cent of the social security assistance goes to children and divorced women from mixed marriages.

Hessa Bint Eisa Bu Humaid, Minister of Community Development, said that the UAE complements the federal and local efforts aimed at enabling the Emirati society to lead a happy and prosperous life in line with UAE Vision 2021.

The minister added our visionary leadership adopted UAE’s Centennial 2071 to make the country the happiest and most cohesive society. “The Emirati society is still enjoying high degree of security, stability and our families still follow the social values and principles laid down by the late Shaikh Zayed (Bin Sultan Al Nahyan),” the minister said.

Family policy

She said the National Family policy seeks to achieve main goals that focus on building and forming future Emirati families capable of coping with the stresses of life and promoting the stability of family life for generations to come.

The policy includes six components — marriage, family relations, balancing of roles, child protection, family protection, and re-engineering the provision of family services to achieve family happiness.

“We are facing some serious challenges regarding caring for children because of many reasons, such as most parents today have jobs and hire nannies to look after their children while they are away,” she said.

As per 2014 statistics, females account for 46 per cent of the workforce in the UAE and 66 per cent of the workforce in the government sector.

“These figures are increasing rapidly,” she added.

The rising number of spinsterhood, late marriage and divorce cases is also posing serious obstacles in the way of achieving UAE development goals, she said.

Family centres

More than 72 family centres will be set up, including 27 social affairs offices, 10 federal centres for social development, 23 centres for social development across emirates, seven family consultation centres across emirates and five private family consultation centres.

The minister said family protection will ensure all members — from children to women, the elderly and the disabled — are stable and safe.

The policy also aims to change the understanding of social and financial responsibilities required to establish a family. The ministry plays a great role in clarifying all these roles and the requirements for a healthy and sustainable family.

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