Atheer – Lawyer Salah Al Muqbali
The topic of women’s rights is very much prominent in the media. We frequently hear of various international agreements that have been formed with the goal of preserving the rights of women. An example of such is the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which serves to help eliminate all forms of discrimination against women. The Ministry of Social Development has formed the National Committee for CEDAW, which aims to ensure that the provisions of the aforementioned convention are upheld within the Sultanate. It is necessary however, to stress that this does not suggest that women in Oman are in any way discriminated against.
Today we celebrate Omani Women’s Day by examining the ways in which the Omani legal system protects the rights of women. From the outset of the inaugural Renaissance Day, the Sultanate has maintained the status of women and safeguarded their rights by implementing laws grounded in Islamic Sharia, that preserve women’s rights and uphold their dignity.
It is necessary to understand that equality does not serve as a means of stripping women of their femininity, but rather it merely places women on an equal pedestal with men. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos has been a champion of female equality, elevating the status of women by ensuring that females are engaged in Oman society via a host of different roles.
Perhaps the most prominent Omani Laws that protects the women’s rights, is that which is stipulated in Royal Decree No 35/2003 of the Omani Labour Law, that affords women the right to equality in the work place. The decree also takes into consideration circumstances that are specific to women. It is thus prohibited for women to be forced into working between the hours of 6pm to 6am, with the exception of particular circumstances defined by the Ministry of Manpower. Additionally, women may not be forced to work in roles that may have a negative impact on their health, nor be employed in hard labour.
Article 12 of the basic law of the state rules that both men and women are equal when it comes to assuming positions of public office. The law also imposes that women have the right to a paid maternity leave period of 50 days as well as unpaid leave for a period of no more than a year to care for the child following the end of the maternity leave. Muslim women are entitled to take fully paid leave for a period of four months and ten days following the death of a spouse. The law also guarantees a female Omani the right to take unpaid leave should she need to accompany her spouse abroad for specific reasons such as for work or study.
Royal Decree number 87/84 of the Social Security Law grants women the right to a pension in the case that they are either widowed, divorced, abandoned, or unmarried women and are without an adequate source of income.