Emirati women making a mark in all sectors
In the past, women in the UAE have had a major role in taking care of the family while their men were away for several months diving, fishing or trading overseas.
Emirati women embody pride, strength and grace, and have played an integral role in the society. As a mother, sister, daughter and a wife, they are upbringing the next generation with great responsibility. Notably, every generation of women paves the way for future generations to contribute more to the growth. Today, women in the UAE play a far larger role compared to yesteryears. However, we still have to gain ground on several fronts to achieve complete balance.
We are blessed to live in a society where the leadership ensures that women are given a voice and due importance for their contribution to the future growth of the UAE. His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has amply stressed the importance of women when he said: "Arab women make up half our community. They are sometimes better than men. Today, they are rising to greater heights in our society and are able to achieve goals within our communities. They will only grow."
In the past, women in the UAE have had a major role in taking care of the family while their men were away for several months diving, fishing or trading overseas. Many women had worked as traders, making handicrafts from palm trees and selling them at the markets to support themselves. After major oil discoveries in 1958, women's role within the UAE gradually expanded and they assumed major societal roles. Women in the UAE today make up two-thirds of the government workforce. Emirati women have challenged the norms and succeeded as business owners, ministers, parliamentarian leaders and fighter pilots. Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance, is a female icon from the UAE. She made history in 2004 as the first woman to hold a ministerial post. Dr Amal Al Qubaisi is the first woman to taker the highest post at the Federal National Council. Kholoud Al Dhaheri was appointed as the first woman judge. Maryam Al Saffar was the first Emirati woman Controller of the Dubai Metro. Major Mariam Al Mansoori was UAE's first female fighter pilot. UAE leaders have encouraged women to work in sectors which were earlier restricted to men. The leadership has always had great confidence in the capabilities of women to take up major challenges and succeed in proving themselves capable of holding senior positions in society.
To celebrate the achievements of Emirati women, August 28 was declared as the "Emirati Women's Day". The day was launched last year by Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairperson of the General Women's Union, President of the Family Development Foundation, and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood. The logo of Emirati Women's Day depicts the country's flag with an illustration of a woman on one section and signifies the individuality of Emirati women.
Emirati Women's Day boosts the recognition of women in the region and highlights their pivotal role in the community. The day is part of a bigger movement to increase female empowerment in the Middle East. Women make up 66 per cent of public sector workers, and 30 per cent of them are in leadership roles. The UAE has eight female ministers, making it one of the highest rates of ministerial representation in the region. Women representation in the Federal National Council stands at 20 per cent. UAE ranked first in the 2015 World Economic Forum report on the literacy rate indicator and on women's enrolment in secondary education index.
The Constitution of the UAE guarantees equal rights for both men and women. Under the Constitution, women enjoy the same legal status, claim to titles, access to education, the right to practice professions, and the right to inherit property. Women are also guaranteed the same access to employment, health and family welfare facilities.
The UAE has made huge steps to support the advancement of women and boost their contribution to development. The country continues to demonstrate its commitment to empower women through supporting more meaningful roles while maintaining strong connections to tradition and culture. Emirati women are making their mark in every field in the Arab region. They will continue to grow and prosper and will surely overcome any barriers that come their way.
Habiba Al Marashi President & CEO of the Arabia CSR Network