The ladies who stand up for the people
Diplomats, consuls and lawyers, these are the ladies who solve problems for their fellow countrymen who live away from home
Women are a force to reckon with in society and these expat women, members of the diplomatic corps, work not only to empower themselves but also to assert and promote the rights, welfare and well-being of their countrymen and the larger expat community in Dubai.
From leading the fight against human-trafficking to promoting business and cultural interactions, and leading a group of diplomats' wives to promote social integration, peace and tolerance in the international community, we bring you Philippine labour attaché to Dubai and Northern Emirates Felicitas Bay, consul Prapavadee Boonchuaykuakool of the Royal Thai Consulate General in Dubai, and Abeer Shocair, president of Diplomatic Ladies Group (DLG)-Dubai and wife of Dr Sa'ed Radaideh, consul general of The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Felicitas Bay is a veteran lawyer and government official who has made anti-human trafficking and anti-illegal recruitment her lifelong crusade. Mild-mannered and soft-spoken yet her conviction speaks volume of her marching order to "significantly reduce the number of Filipinos illegally recruited in the UAE."
"As labour attaché, I represent the Philippine Secretary of Labour and Employment and implements Philippine labour policy and programs overseas," Bay says.
Employment promotion, identification of job opportunities, seeking out viable employment opportunities, evaluating labor market information and regulations, providing prospective employers with timely and appropriate information on Philippine overseas employment procedures and requirements, coordinating and establishing relationships with employers and employment-related industry associations are just some of the tasks Bay do on a day-to-day basis.
"I help in the development of labour migration policies by providing policy recommendations that will facilitate the employment and hiring of workers in the host country," she tells Khaleej Times.
Her tasks are daunting but her gender is no impediment to fulfilling her role. She says she got her wisdom and strength from another woman. "I have been guided since my younger years and up to this day by a strong woman, an educator who balanced work and family life: my mother, Carolina Quetulio Bay," she underlines
She is also satisfied that she is in a country where women are seen as equal with men. "In the UAE, a good number of government ministries are led by women. The UAE is ranked as a leading country in gender equality in the region. There are also women in the Federal National Council, judiciary and diplomatic corps. It is my view that women and men are equal in UAE," Bay underlines.
Consul Prapavadee Boonchuaykuakool of the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Dubai says "Dubai sets a good example for women empowerment."
"Contrary to my previous impression about gender equality in Muslim countries, I have met and liaised with so many great and respectable women in Dubai who play a leading role in the government, business community and society. I strongly feel that women are given more opportunities to excel their roles in Dubai," she tells Khaleej Times.
Prapavadee or Consul Fay (as her friends and colleagues call her) has been serving as a diplomat for four years. As consul for economic and cultural affairs, her responsibilities involve "building a good understanding and collaboration between people from Dubai and the northern Emirates and Thailand through business and cultural dimensions."
Some of her upcoming projects include the Art of Thai Culinary, a Thai cooking contest in Dubai for authentic Thai dishes and in May she will lead a group of students from the UAE to Thailand to experience local lifestyle and learn to be sustainable travellers in Chiang Mai.
What can she say about the role of women in society? "I would say the role of women in society needs to be reinterpreted especially in terms of contribution to the society we live in. Women's active roles in society and unconventional industries should not be interpreted as anti-men movement. On the contrary, it should be recognised as a contribution for the development of the societies together with other people from different genders."
"I see women's participation and contribution in every possible industries which used to be gender-restricted and I want to see more. With our determination and nature, I believe that women can step outside the expected roles and come forward to create new opportunities to achieve any given goals," consul Fay concludes.
Abeer Shocair has a law degree and masters in education along with long diplomatic experience that allow her to support her husband, Dr Sa'ed Radaideh, consul general of The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, in his diplomatic mission as well as in exploring new opportunities to enhance UAE-Jordan bilateral relations.
She says her major role as president of Diplomatic Ladies Group (DLG)-Dubai makes her "more enthusiastic with the help and support of my dear colleagues and friends to make this group more active and useful for us and our communities as well to the larger society."
"We hold monthly meetings to organise our activities and update our plans. All members of the diplomatic group are participating in many interesting events and organising visits to some hospitals and societies," Shocair tells Khaleej Times.
"DLG allows us to promote our culture and the latest happenings in our respective countries specially the social events, business opportunities and touris sites, besides highlighting women's significant role in our societies," she adds.
Their group's latest initiative was an interaction with students of Rashid Centre for the Determined Ones "to create a greater awareness among the ladies of the diplomatic community of the challenges of People with Determination and how they could integrate with the larger community."
What can she say of the role of women in the UAE? "Women in the UAE are standing tall and are playing a major role in most of the important areas such as politics, medicine, business, law and professional training. This achievement is the natural result of the UAE vision to empower women to take part in building the future of the country," she concludes.
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