'He elevated Emirati women's status': How Sheikh Khalifa championed gender equality

FNC members hail his visionary leadership, due to which the nation has achieved one of the world's highest rates of female participation in the government


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Published: Fri 13 May 2022, 7:02 PM

Last updated: Sat 14 May 2022, 10:48 AM

Members of the Federal National Council (FNC) are mourning the death of the UAE President His HighnessSheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who passed away on May 13.

They hailed him for his visionary leadership, which played a vital role in building the nation and achieving gender parity.

Saqr Ghobash, Speaker of the FNC, said: “The FNC expresses its condolences to the people of the UAE, the Arab and Islamic nations, and the entire world on the death of the UAE President and leader of the empowerment process. We pray to Allah Almighty to rest his soul in eternal peace and grant.”

"We knew Sheikh Khalifa as a wise and inspiring leader, and a caring father to the people of the UAE and world over. His achievements will bear witness to the fact that he has fulfilled the trust and performed it well.”

Women’s participation in UAE’s politics is notably high, as Sheikh Khalifa's government had introduced policy measures to redress the gender imbalance.

The country’s parliamentary body, the FNC’s electoral process, has included women as both voters and candidates right from when elections were introduced in 2006. And since then, the number of women in the FNC has grown tremendously. Currently, the UAE has one of the world’s highest rates of female participation in the government, with women making up 50 per cent of the FNC members.

Within the public sector and governmental employment, as of 2015, women occupy 66 per cent of public sector jobs, one of the highest proportions worldwide. Thirty per cent occupy senior leadership positions associated with decision-making roles.

In 2020, Sheikh Khalifa had issued a decree stipulating equal wages for women and men in the private sector. The decision was aimed at strengthening the country’s regional and international status for upholding gender equality.

FNC member Sara Mohammed Falaknaz says the UAE has lost a visionary and great leader who prioritised women.

“Sheikh Khalifa’s wise leadership greatly helped in elevating Emirati women to all spheres, including great participation in the nation's politics and holding senior leadership positions,” she said.

"Emirati women have been given quality education, tools and capabilities and the chance to lead and participate in the government's decision-making.”

Falaknaz added: "Today, 50 per cent of the FNC is comprised of women. We also see a big number of women in ministerial posts and others heading very important government offices.”

“In 2015, a woman assumed the position of FNC Speaker. Also, many women have headed different parliamentary committees.”

According to Falaknaz, 28 per cent of the current UAE Cabinet comprises women, one of the highest levels of representation in the Middle East and the world.

Dhirar Belhoul Al Falasi, FNC member, said the nation is devastated by the news of Sheikh Khalifa's death.

“His leadership has seen the UAE stride to greater heights economically, socially, politically and all other spheres,” he said.

“Sheikh Khalifa has empowered Emirati women. They are now key in the country's important decision-making and play a prime role in all fields.”

Al Falasi noted that Sheikh Khalifa’s directive, which saw Emirati women occupy half the seats on the FNC, made the UAE one among the few countries with the highest levels of women’s participation in parliament.

FNC member Maryam Majid Bin Theneya said: “May God have mercy on our father and leader, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is truly the best successor to the best predecessor.


“Sheikh Khalifa completed the path of the late father, Sheikh Zayed, in building the renaissance of the UAE and realising his dream of empowering women, access to space and other development projects that brought the UAE to the ranks of the first countries in the world.”

She said the Sheikh Khalifa’s concern for UAE citizen's interests was the focus of his interest and was manifested in many residential development projects and healthcare centres throughout the country.

“He also implemented many charitable projects that extended beyond the borders of the UAE to include care for every needy in the world.

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