‘Emirati Women Need to Separate Individual and Cultural Roles’

Staff Reporter
Filed on January 15, 2009

DUBAI - From being a housekeeper and secluded from the corporate scenario, to now occupying high-profile positions, the UAE woman has come a long way, proving that they too can be powerful leaders. The first Arab Women Leadership Forum that began in Dubai on Tuesday highlighted the progress women have made and what lies ahead of them to achieve.

Mona Al Marri“The forum is a platform to share knowledge and experiences of the participants but is also an occasion for them to see who we are as Emiratis and what we do. Maybe this will help change the perception that has already been …not damaged ... but created over the years,” said Mona Al Marri, CEO, Media Services Group.

The epitome of women leadership herself, Mona has achieved many a feat as a woman, not letting cultural barriers be obstacles in her way of success. “We come from a young country that provides equal opportunities to men and women based on capabilities rather than gender. I believe that in the coming years, the Dubai Women’s Establishment will strongly contribute to certain policies that will help the government,” said Mona.

The Emirati women are as advanced and modern as women anywhere in the world, said Mona who currently juggles several responsibilities at the same time including those of the chairperson of the Dubai Press Club, CEO of JIWIN and vice-president of Dubai Ladies Club.

“I want to represent my country as a UAE national and not as a westerner, distinguishing myself from the rest. Often open-mindedness is mixed with the heritage we represent. When people see us wearing our abayas and sheilas, they think we aren’t open-minded. I think we need to separate our individual identity from our cultural identity. We are outgoing and ambitious. We want to achieve.”

The forum seeks to create further research opportunities in affiliation with international organisations. “With the forum that has the participation of high-profile speakers and participants, we want to change the perception of the people both at the national and international level.”

Themed ‘Women and Leadership: Global Trends and Local Innovations’, it is looking for in-depth research in the region. “When you bring such academicians with such high expertise, you need to know the latest studies that have taken place on women at the national level. The focus of research will be on narrowing the gap between genders.”

Being a woman, Mona believes that there are some jobs that women should not venture into. “There are some jobs that don’t suit a women’s feminine nature. But there are lots of jobs where women can show their worth. My message to women is that they need to work really hard and they have to push for opportunities, not looking towards the government for everything but creating their own paths.”

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