Gender Gap Index[1]

Gender Gap Index 2014
Overall Economic Participation Political Empowerment Educational Attainment
Rank Score Rank Score Rank Score Rank Score
128 0.609 128 0.471 139 0.021 96 0.974
(Rank: out of 142 countries) (Score: 0.00 = inequality, 1.00 = equality)


Family Code/ Personal Status Law

  • Family matters are governed by Personal Status Law (promulgated by Royale Decree No.32, 1997), which is based on Shari’ah law and assigns men and women different rights and responsibilities
  • The Personal Status Law (Art. 282) states that non-Muslims are able to follow their own religious laws in regard to family matters



  • The minimum legal age of marriage is 18 for both men and women (Art. 7) although a judge may permit marriages to individuals under that age with proof that the latter is in the minor’s interest (Art. 10/c).
  • Articles 16 and 17 of the Personal Status law provide that full consent must be given.
  • While recent data on the prevalence of early marriage is not available, the United Nations (using data from 2003) reports that 4.2% of 15-19 year old women were married, divorced, or widowed
  • In Oman, fathers and husbands are legally considered to be the heads of household (Personal Status Code, Art. 38) and customarily, wives are expected to follow her husband's wishes in all things.
  • With regards to parental authority, Article 36 of the Personal Status Code states that both spouses have the right to take care of their children and ensure their upbringing.
  • Shari'ah law provides for polygamy, allowing Muslim men to take up to four wives. The Ministry of Religious Affairs estimates that one in 20 men are in polygamous unions.


  • Men have the right to repudiate, or divorce their wives unilaterally, whereas women are only able to initiate divorce in a narrow range of circumstances, for instance abandonment.
  • In the event of divorce, Islamic law regards fathers as the legal guardians of the children, except in certain circumstances

Resources and Assets

  • Following changes to legislation in 2008, women acquired the right to obtain residential land without the condition that they be the sole providers of their families, or divorced or widowed, as was previously the case. In practice, however, husbands often make decisions regarding property and income owned by women and authorities are reluctant to intervene to uphold women's rights in this area, seeing it as a private matter.
  • According to a report published by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, women own as little as 0.4% of the land.
  • Under Omani law (Art 11, Basic Law), married and unmarried women have the right to own and manage non-land assets. The default marital property regime is separation of property and the original owner is legally entitled to administer their property during marriage.
  • Women in Oman are legally entitled to open bank accounts, access to financial services (including bank loans), and to enter into various forms of financial contracts but social conventions mean that decisions regarding such activities are rarely made at the individual level, but rather by the family.
  • Shari'ah law provides for detailed and complex calculations of inheritance shares. Women may inherit from their father, mother, husband or children and, under certain conditions, from other family members. However, their share is generally smaller than that to which men are entitled.


  • Oman's personal status law explicitly provides women with the legal right to work outside the home.
  • In practice, women's decisions regarding career choices are almost always made in consultation with male family members, and it is very difficult for a woman to take up a particular career if her family do not approve.
  • Women are entitled to 42 days paid maternity leave, financed by the employer. It is illegal to dismiss a pregnant woman from employment, but there is no law mandating equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value


  • There is no legislation in place in Oman specifically dealing with domestic violence, although Article 37 of Personal Status Law provides that a wife has the right to not be physically or mentally harmed by her husband
  • Rape is a criminal offence in Oman, punishable with up to 15 years in prison. The law does not recognize the concept of spousal rape. Women who are victims of rape risk being punished along with the perpetrator if they decided to press charges, and cases of rape are seemingly underreported
  • There is no specific law addressing sexual harassment, nor is sexual harassment addressed in other legislation.
  • While female genital mutilation (FGM) is not a common practice in the country, it is believed to occur among some communities, notably in the Dhofar and Al-Batinah regions. At present, there is no specific legislation against FGM, although a government decree now forbids FGM/C and the practice is no longer permitted in government institutions

Political Participation

Women's Political Participation Year Total Source
Number of women in parliament (single/lower house) 2014 1/84 (lower house)
15/83 (upper house
IPU database
% of women in parliament 2014 1.19% (lower house)
18.07% (upper house)
Legislated quotas for women for single/ lower house (yes/no) 2014 NO The Quota Project database


  • Oman's Basic Law prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender at article 17.
  • Shari'ah law is recognised as the source of all legislation, and all civil courts have a Shari'ah department, which deals with matters relating to the personal status law
  • The citizens of Oman do not have the right to change their government democratically.
  • Women and men in Oman do have the same right to vote and stand for election to the partially-elected lower Consultative Council (which has no legislative powers and can only recommend changes to laws), and women have been registering to vote and as candidates in increasing numbers


  • There are no quotas in place for women in Oman


  • Majiles Al-Shura/ Consultative Council (Lower House)
  • Last elected 2011, 1/84 (1.19%) female representatives (directly elected)
  • Majiles Addawla/ State Council (Upper House)
  • Last appointed 2011, 15/83 (18.07%) female representatives (appointed by Royal Decree)
  • Following the 2011 elections, one woman was elected (for the first time) to the 84-seat Consultative Council.
  • In the same year, the Sultan appointed 15 women to the 83 seat State Council.
  • Women are currently banned from serving as judges.
  • Four women were elected to the first-ever 192 Municipal Council of Oman in 2012


  • Little attention is given to women’s rights issues in the state-controlled media and journalists face intimidation and potential prison sentences for opinionated publication on politically sensitive topics.

CEDAW and reservations[7]

  • Oman ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women in 2006, with reservations to the following articles (2, 9:2, 15:4, 16, and 29:1):
  • With regard to article 2: All provisions not I accordance with the provisions of the Islamic Shari’ahand legislation in force in the Sultanate of Oman
  • With regard to article 9, paragraph2: which provides that State Parties shall grant women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children
  • With regard to article 15, paragraph 4: which provides that State Parties shall accord to men and women the same rights with regard to the law relating to the movement of persons and the freedom to choose their residence and domicile
  • With regard to article 16: regarding the equality of men and women, and in particular subparagraphs (a), (c), and (f) (regarding adoption)
  • With regard to article 29, paragraph 1: regarding arbitration and the referral to the International Court of Justice of any dispute between two or more States which is not settled by negotiation
  • Oman has not ratified the Optional Protocol

Economic Empowerment[7]

Women's Economic Participation Year Total Source
Labour Force Participation
Ratio of female to male labour force participation 2014 0.36 World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Gap Report 2014
Labour force participation, female (% of total labour force) 2013 30% World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank
Labour force participation, female (% of female population 15-64) 2012 30.1%
Labour force participation, male (% of male population 15-64) 2012 83.6%
Youth Employment
Ratio of female to male youth unemployment rate (% aged 15-24) 2012 169% World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank
Unemployment, female (% of female labour force) 2012 14.7%  
Unemployment, male (% of male labour force) 2012 6.9%
Unemployment, total (% of total labour force) 2012 8.1% World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank
Sectors of Work
Agriculture (% of female employment) 2010 0.5% World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank
Agriculture (% of male employment) 2010 6.1%
Women employed in non-agricultural sector (% of total non-agricultural employment) 2014 22% World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Gap Report 2014
Industry (% of female employment) 2010 6.3% World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank
Industry (% of male employment) 2010 43.1%
Services (% of female employment) 2010 93.2%
Services (% of male employment) 2010 50.7%
Employers, female (% of employment) 2010 0.7%
Employers, male (% of employment) 2010 1.3%


  • Overall, women’s participation in the labour force is low in Oman, with disapproval of women working outside the home reportedly a significant limiting factor.
  • While women's participation in the workforce has risen over the last twenty years, it remains relatively low, at 29%, according to the OECD Gender Index

Sectors of Work

  • Women are barred from working at night, apart from certain professions (e.g. medical staff), as well as from work that is hazardous to health, strenuous labour, or other work to be determined by decree of the Minister.

[1] World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Gap Report 2014:
[2] All information on legislation has been sourced from the OECD Social Institutions and Gender Index, 2014: Unless stated otherwise.
[8] All information on economic empowerment has been sourced from the World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank: Unless stated otherwise.