“In the UAE, we believe strongly that the empowerment of women is important to the future of our country”
When we talk of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak- Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, President of the General Women’s Union – Chairwoman of Motherhood and Childhood Supreme Council, we do not talk of a woman who was satisfied with a limited role, even if it was noble. We are rather talking of a lady who dedicated herself to her society with all its sectors.
We talk about a lady who sought, since the foundation of the Federation State, to raise the status of all its social and ideological classes and arrays. That sublimity was meant to be comprehensive and thorough to cover the entire country at all cultural, social and political levels.
She bears in mind women, whether they were mothers, workers or students. Children, whether healthy or disabled, have an intensive presence in her daily agenda. Moreover, the various aspects of life in the country are an integral part of her being, for she does not accept to be just a witness to life’s events, but rather to have an affective and constructive role.
Her highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Al Ketbi was born in Al Hayer, Al Ain City in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and was raised by a religious and conservative bedouin family. Her Highness adored the bedouin life values and simplicity, which inspired her personality and culture.
She got married to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan- May Allah Bless His Soul- during the 1960s, when His Highness was the Ruler of the Eastern Region.
She supported her husband, the Prudent of Arabs, in all situations and had strong ties with him, as she considered him her foremost mentor and inspirer. She, moreover, experienced the very decisive historical moments of our country’s life and the early endeavors by His Highness to modernize the state. Her Highness devoted most of her time and attention to wholeheartedly look after her husband. Likewise, she had gone through his busiest times during the years of political dynamism and contributed in composing his success story, of which the foundation of the United Arab Emirates on December 2nd, 1971 is a prominent chapter. All such factors had deeply impressed Her Highness as they served in shaping her intellectual inclination and in qualifying her to shoulder the heavy responsibilities she assumed later on.
Modesty, tolerance and openness to others discern her personality beside her constant and strong determination and boundless love for charitable work inside and outside the United Arab Emirates.
She moved to Abu Dhabi City when the late Sheikh Zayed became ruler of the Emirate on August 16th, 1966. Thereafter, she began learning Quran, Sunna, history, languages and human sciences. Her Highness attended some open studies where her education diversified to cover various areas in addition to fulfilling her duties as the Abu Dhabi Ruler’s wife, and raising her children during this critical transitional period.
Thus, the idea of establishing a women’s society emerged, to meet the women of Abu Dhabi, support and urge them to prepare themselves to make to her mission towards the nation, greater society and family a success. Her Highness launched a nation-wide campaign against illiteracy and highlighted the need to educate girls, while often repeating that illiteracy is our foremost enemy.
In 1973, she established the Abu Dhabi Women Development Association as the first women’s society in the country through which she set the cornerstone for the achievements she made for women. After the declaration of the United Arab Emirates – as a stable unified entity- on December 2nd, 1971; the women’s work started gaining stamina since women constitute half of the society and are the ones who raise new generations and make the dream of building the modern state a reality.
Hence, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima opened her Majlis (reception room) to meet the women of the country and to participate in realizing the dream of building the modern state, which the late Sheikh Zayed commenced by calling on both men and women to take part.
From the beginning, Her Highness played the part of women’s ambassador to the President, and used to meet the ladies and pioneers of women work twice a week before the declaration of establishing the Women’s Union in 1975 to be the official representative of women in the United Arab Emirates.
The Union was meant to convey women’s ambitions and aspiration and to represent them in the international arenas and to pave the way for progress.
This entity actually and properly succeeded in discharging its responsibilities, and women’s march towards progress started on the right track as set by Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, to enable women to achieve their targets and become participations in the social and political decision-making process.
In more than 30 years of constant giving, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak accomplished many gains for Emirati women, and their achievements today clearly bear her mark.
She has been a permanent generous giver; as she always says that each particle of her being is melded with the soil of her country. Therefore she devoted herself for serving this homeland.
Talking about Her Highness Sheikha Fatima’s achievements will never serve her justice, although they had been under the spotlight in the Arab Nation and the entire world, for when she gives, she never speaks up. We, and all generations, ought to perceive the effective and vivid role Her Highness plays for the development of our country.
Mother of Shiekhs
Her Highness is mother of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Hazzaa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Sheikha Shamma bint Zayed Al Nahyan and Sheikha Alyazia bint Zayed Al Nahyan.
Her Highness Sheikha Fatima is the symbol of the Emirates woman’s development. She is rather a living brilliant example of women’s capability to work and achieve and that strong will is the way to achievement.
Sheikha Fatima is the ideal example of a woman standing by her husband through all situations, a role model in the way she raised her children. She is the example for the woman who adheres to her faith and traditions; for the wise insightful woman who can interact with new advances and can select what is better, worthy and appropriate for our environment and society.
Thanks to Her Highness’s efforts, the significant aspect of the women’s action march she leads is that the Emirati woman has always been keen to balance between modern developments and the adherence to our Islamic values and genuine Arab conventions, as well as fulfilling her first duty as a woman, which is her responsibility towards her family and children.
The Mother of the UAE had shown keen interest in girls’ education and given it priority. She moved all over the country in order to motivate families to support their daughters in acquiring knowledge. Her Highness supervised an ambitious strategy eliminate illiteracy in the United Arab Emirates; which was a great success that earned her the appreciation and gratitude of international organizations.
Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak paid much attention to woman’s education out of her belief that education is the window thru which women view the civilization of nations and is our means to keep up with the march of development, progress and the continuous advancement in our society.
Her Highness tried her utmost to urge girls to join the UAE University when it was established in 1978. She was also keen to patronize the successive celebrations of female graduates of the university since the first batch graduated on March 1st, 1982 and consisted of 194 students and until the present when the number of graduates has reached hundreds and thousands.
Sheikha Fatima paid special attention to motherhood, childhood and family affairs which have been her main concerns. Within a short period of time, she could bring women, children and families significant status and gains in all fields.
Her Highness sponsored the first women’s society established in the UAE in Abu Dhabi on February 8th, 1973. Then, more societies were later established in other emirates, and it became a must to coordinate the efforts and goals of these societies. Therefore, the General Women’s Union was established on August 27th, 1975 and first headed by Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak.
Her Highness has been called (Mother of Sheikhs) and then (Mother of the UAE) on the occasion of World Woman Day on March 21st, 2005 and it was the title she well-deserved.
Her Highness Sheikha Fatima has carried out founding and chairing many local, regional and international societies including:
- Establishing Abu Dhabi Women Development Association, on Feb. 8th 1973.
- Establishing the General Women’s Union (GWU). On August 27th, 1975.
- Establishing a branch of Abu Dhabi Women’s Development Association in Al-Butain, on August 12th, 1977.
- Establishing the branch of Abu Dhabi Women’s Development Association in Madinat Zayed; on April 23rd, 1977.
- Establishing the Handmade and Environmental Vocations Center at the General Women’s Union (GWU), 1978. The Center aims at developing and promoting women’s skills and abilities and preserving local heritage.
- Establishing the branch of Abu Dhabi Women’s Development Association in Abu Dhabi. 1979.
- Establishing the branch of Abu Dhabi Women’s Development Association in Al-Ain; on February 15th, 1980.
- Establishing the branch of Abu Dhabi Women Development Association in Delma Island. 1980.
- Establishing the branch of Abu Dhabi Women’s Development Association in Al-Marfa’, Abu Dhabi. 1980.
- Establishing the branch of Abu Dhabi Women’s Development Association in Al-Sala’, Abu Dhabi. 1980.
- Established the branch of Abu Dhabi Women’s Development Association in Al-Wathba 1981.
- Established the GWU’s Ladies Beach in Ras Al-Akhdar, Abu Dhabi 1987.
- Chaired the Dar Zayed for Comprehensive Care. 1988.
- Establishing and chairing Sheikha Fatima’s Bureau for Female Nationals and Social Services. September 1st, 1994.
- Chairing the Coordination Committee for Women’s Action in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula since 1994.
- Chaired of Abu Dhabi Women’s Club since 1995.
- Establishing the branch of Abu Dhabi Women Development Association in Shahama in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi; 1995.
- Establishing the Abu Dhabi Ladies Club’s Sharia Ladies Swimming Pool and Park. 1995.
- Establishing GWU’s Al-Raha Ladies Beach in Abu Dhabi. 1997.
- Establishing the branch of Abu Dhabi Women Development Association in Al-Hayer. 1998.
- Establishing the Sheikha Fatima Fund for Refugee Women, in cooperation and coordination with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR. 2000.
- Established the GWU’s Cultural and Social Center in the Officer City in Abu Dhabi. 2000.
- Establishing the GWU’s Employment Office of National Women Graduates. 2000.
- Establishing the GWU’s Information Training Center. 2000.
- Establishing the GWU’s Parent-Child Visitation Office. 2000.
- Founder-Member of the Arab Women Organization since April 24th, 2002.
- Establishing the GWU’s Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Social and Cultural Center in Suwaihan. January 12th, 2002.
- Establishing and chairing the supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood 2003.
- Establishing GWU’s Women Human Resource Training and Development Center 2003.
- Establishing the GWU’s Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Social and Cultural Center in Al-Hayer 2004.
- Establishing the GWU’s Health Guidance. 2004.
- Establishing and chairing the Family Development Foundation (FDF). 2006.
- Chairing the Arab Women Organization (2007-2009).
- H.H Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak holds the following honorary positions:
- Honorary President of the Girl Guides Association since 1975.
- Honorary Chairwoman of the Women Committee at the Red Crescent Society (RCS). 1983-1997.
- Honorary Chairwoman of the Abu Dhabi Mothers’ Council of Abu Dhabi Educational Zone since 1985.
- First Leader and Honorary President of the Emirates Girl Guides Association since 1988.
- Honorary Chairwoman of the Abu Dhabi Ladies’ Club since 1995.
- Honorary Chairwoman of the Sheikh Zayed Private Academy since 2000.
- Honorary Chairwoman of the Abu Dhabi Businesswomen Council since 2001.
- Honorary Chairwoman of the Shelter Homes for the Victims of Human Trafficking since 2008.
- H.H Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak adopted many initiatives and projects aiming to empower women locally, regionally and internationally, such as:
- Launching the Women Literacy and Education Strategy in the UAE. 1975.
- Patronizing the Producing Families Festival since 1997.
- Patronizing the National survey of the characteristics of the UAE family. 1998.
- Patronizing the Festival of Supporting the People of Kosovo 1999.
- Establishing Sheikha Fatima Fund for Refugee Women, in cooperation and coordination with the Red Crescent Authority (RCA) and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR. March 1st, 2000.
- The National Strategy for the Advancement of Women in cooperation with The UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) 2002.
- Patronizing the Cultural Passport Award, run by the Family Development Foundation (FDF) 2003.
- Launching the National Initiatives for Mainstreaming Social Gender in the UAE, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program. 2006.
- Patronizing the scheme for enhancing the role of Arab Women Parliamentarians, in conjunction with (UNIFEM); (2006-2008).
- Launching the Women & Technology Program in the UAE, in cooperation with Microsoft.
- Launching the Network for Arab Women in Diaspora at the 2nd Conference of Arab Women Organization, Abu Dhabi; November 11th, 2008.
- Launching the Media Strategy for Arab woman at the 2nd Conference of Arab Women Organization, Abu Dhabi; November 11th, 2008.
- Launching the Arab Women Award in Sciences and Technology for Development-Arab Women Organization 2008.
- Established the Sheikha Fatima Muslim Girls Students Hostel in Colombo, Sri Lanka; 2009.
- Patronizing the annual celebrations of female graduates of UAE University, Higher Colleges of Technology, Zayed University and Khawla Bint Al-Azwar Military School
- Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak neatly focus on family and children as she continues spending effort to ensure family stability with special priority to the protection and care of children. Hence, she launched many initiatives including:
- Launching the Tabak Al-Khair Project (Charity Meal Project), 1982 whose proceeds go to local, regional and international charities.
- Declaring 1988 as the Year of Women Literacy.
- Declaring 1991 as the year of voluntary work in social, health and military fields.
- Launch of the Sheikha Fatima Ideal Family Award. 1997.
- Patronizing UAE celebrations of the Arab Family Day. Since 1997.
- Launch of the Al-Bir Award. 1997.
- Launching the Anti-Smoking Campaign. May 29th, 2001.
- Launching a Diabetes Public Health Awareness Campaign; February 2nd, 2007.
- Launching the National Traffic Safety Awareness Campaign; February 25th 2007.
- Launching the Giving Hands Initiative for Children with Deformities and Eye Diseases; November 9th, 2008.
- Formulating the UAE National Childhood and Motherhood Strategy in cooperation with United Nations Children’s fund (UNICEF). 2009-2011.
- Funding relief programs for Palestinian orphaned and displaced children by Israeli aggressions on Sabra & Shatila and Ain el-Hilweh refugee camps in Lebanon.
- Supporting Arab and International Humanitarian and Relief Agencies and Charities.
- H.H. Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak patronized many local, regional and international conferences and symposium and encouraged the General Women’s Union to actively participate in them. Among these conferences are:
- World Conference on Women, Mexico City, 1975.
- Seminar on “The Muslim Woman – Her Full Potential Development”. Rabat, Morocco, 1977.
- Conference on Childhood in Tunisia. 1979.
- World Conference on Women. Copenhagen 1980.
- 3rd Regional Conference on Women in the Gulf & Arabian Peninsula. Kuwait, 1981.
- Hosting and patronizing the Conference on Research on Women in the Gulf and Arab Peninsula”. Abu Dhabi. March 24th- to 27th, 1984.
- The UN’s Third World Conference on Women in Nairobi, Kenya. 1985.
- Hosting and patronizing a seminar on Arab-Gulf States Seminar for Women on Population and the Family. Abu Dhabi, May 3rd- 5th, 1986.
- Patronizing a symposium on Media and Communication for Raising Awareness of the Health of Mothers and Children. Held in cooperation with Ministry of Health and UNICEF. March 8th to 10th, 1988.
- Hosting and patronizing the 11th Conference of Arab Girl Guides. Abu Dhabi, December 5th to 8th, 1988.
- Patronizing a training session on planning women’s action. Abu Dhabi, February 16th to 27th, 1991.
- Patronizing “Project on Compiling Women Heritage in the UAE” in cooperation with the UAE University. 1991.
- Summit on the Economic Advancement of Rural Women. United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), February 25th – 26th, 1992.
- Regional Conference on Women and Development. Tunisia, 1993.
- Patronizing Regional Coordination Committee for Women Action in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula. Abu Dhabi, December 15th-17th, 1994.
- The United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Cairo, 1994.
- Patronizing “Expert Group Meeting on the Arab Family in a Changing Society”. Held by UAE’s GWU in association with (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia) ESCWA. Abu Dhabi, December 11th, 13th, 1995.
- Fourth World Conference on Women. Beijing. September 4th- 15th, 1995.
- The United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II). Istanbul, Turkey June 3rd- 14th, 1996.
- Fifth International Conference on Adult Education. Hamburg, July 14th-18th 1997.
- Women’s Conference. Larnaca, Cyprus, 1999.
- World Conference on Science for the Twenty-First Century. Budapest, June, 1999.
- Patronizing the MENA Businesswomen’s Summit. Abu Dhabi, October 30th 2006.
- Hosting and patronizing the Arab Women Media Forum. Organized by GWU in cooperation with the Arab League, Egypt’s National Women Council and Lebanon’s Al-Hariri Foundation. Abu Dhabi, February 2nd-3rd, 2002.
- The 2nd Arab Women Summit. Amman, Jordan. 2002.
- Patronizing the 1st Arab Business Women Global Economic Forum, Abu Dhabi, October 7th- 10th 2003.
- Chairing the conference of (Treatment by Quran between Religion and Medicine) Abu Dhabi, April 10th-12th 2007.
- Hosting and chairing the 3rd Meeting of the Higher Council of Arab Women Organization. May 27th, 2007.
- Chairing the International Aging Conference, Abu Dhabi. April 22nd, 24th, 2008.
- Hosting and chairing the second Conference of Arab Women Organization: Women and Human Security – an Arab and international perspective. Abu Dhabi, November 11th-13th, 2008.
- Patronizing the conference on (A World in Family), Abu Dhabi, May 6th-7th 2009.
- Patronizing the 2nd Emirates Conference on Volunteering & Gulf Volunteering Forum, January 31st, 2010.
- Patronizing the 30th Arab Children International Conference in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, July 12th-18th, 2010.
- Patronizing the National Contest for the Emirates’ Skills, February 27th, 2011.
- Patronizing the 31st Arab Children International Conference in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, November 13th, 2011.
- Patronizing the launch of events of the International Conference for Women’s Sports, Abu Dhabi; April 11th, 2012.
- Patronizing the National Contest for the Emirates’ Skills, April 11th, 2011.