ABU DHABI, 27th August, 2015 (WAM) — H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union (GWU), Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, has expressed her pleasure at dedicating the 1st Emirati Women’s Day, on 28th August, to honour mothers of the martyrs and the women working in the armed forces.
In a speech made to mark the day, Sheikh Fatima praised the support given to the UAE women by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates.
Sheikha Fatima has underscored the cohesion between the leadership and citizens, citing the orders of the UAE President to make 30th November each year Martyr’s Day to remember the gallant sons of the UAE who have sacrificed their lives to elevate the nation’s flag among other nations.
She called on Emirati women to sustain their gains and harness available resources to advance their cause, urging them to take part in the next Federal National Council elections.
Sheikha Fatima also endorsed the logo for Emirati Women’s Day which symbolises the unique identity of Emirati women and depicts the country s flag with an illustration of a woman on one section.
Earlier this year, August 28th was declared Emirati Women’s Day. The date marks the anniversary of the creation of the GWU in 1975, and is considered a chance to celebrate Emirati women’s achievements since the group was founded.
The GWU has continued its mission, thanks to the unlimited support of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates.
Sheikha Fatima expressed her satisfaction with the response and enthusiasm of young Emirati women joining up for national service. She received female officers who gave a presentation on national service for women. “We have proudly been seeing young Emirati women thronging the recruitment centres to join up and express their loyalty to, and love for, their country, and their readiness to make sacrifices for the sake of their country and for protecting its sovereignty, achievements and gains.”
She added that Emirati women have proven beyond doubt their efficiency in any role assigned to them in service of the nation, including the Armed Forces, national service, police and security.
Sheikha Fatima recalled that the enlisting of Emirati women in the Armed Forces dates back to the era of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, a legacy sustained by the incumbent President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to build a formidable armed forces. She noted that, “We observed, on 8th December last year, the silver jubilee of the Khawla bint Al Azwar Military School.”
She said that Emirati women have been enlisting in the Armed Forces in droves, despite the fact that they were not obliged by any law to do so. “It reflects the legendary epic loyalty to the homeland and the leadership as well as willingness to take on national responsibility and partnership in the defence of national sovereignty, dignity and national gains.”
“We greet Emirati women for their deep allegiance and genuine belonging, selflessness, generosity and constant readiness to defend the nation and national gains.”
Sheikha Fatima noted the strong presence of Emirati women in all the units of the Armed Forces, including Air Force and Air Defence, and their ability to make it to the rank of brigadier.
She thanked all officials of National and Reserve Service Authority for their efforts and reiterated her support for them.
The march of women’s advancement commenced with the establishment of the UAE on 2nd December, 1971. This was part of the ambitious programme of development launched by the founder of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, for the building of the homeland and the raising up of its citizens, based upon his recognition that women represent half of society.
The establishment of the General Women’s Union on 27th August, 1975, with the unlimited support of Sheikh Zayed and under the chairmanship of the pioneering leader of women’s empowerment, H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, represented a starting point in the march of women’s progress and empowerment.
The General Women’s Union has completed a continuous series of ambitious strategies, programmes and plans to strengthen the capacities of women and activate their role in community service, as well as promoting their position locally, regionally and internationally.
The National Strategy for the Advancement of Women, launched by H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, in 2002, is one of the major achievements of the march of the Union, most notably of all in the progress of women empowerment.
The strategy, which was prepared by the General Women’s Union, national teams of all governmental and non-governmental institutions in the country, experts of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, UN Women, and the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, is based on the Constitution of the United Arab Emirates and all of the items and articles included therein pertaining to ensuring the rights of women in various fields.
The strategy provides a roadmap for the empowerment of women in eight main areas: education, health, the economy, law-making, the environment, the social domain, information, political participation and decision-making. The UAE was the first country in the region to launch such a strategy, keeping pace with strategies of international action for the advancement of women. It follows on from the National Plan of Action for Women in the UAE, approved by the General Women’s Union in 1999.
The UAE has also implemented its commitment to legislative protection for the rights of the family, women and children, through joining the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the International Convention concerning Employment of Women during the Night, as well as by signing other agreements aimed at achieving full gender equality in rights and duties.
With regard to political and economic empowerment in the UAE, women have achieved further gains, quality and outstanding achievements, ahead of women in many other parts of the world, as part of the efforts aimed at promoting the country’s renaissance and political empowerment programmes, as well as the strategy of the 5th Ten-Year plan to empower citizens, launched by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, which attached particular importance to the empowerment of women in all areas.
Today, women in the UAE are key partners in leading the drive towards sustainable development and occupy the highest positions in the executive, legislative and judicial sovereignty authorities, as well as having a strong presence in the Arab, regional and international women’s arenas. This enhances and supports participation by Emirati women in political life, where they hold numerous high positions, including several ministerial portfolios, membership of the Federal National Council and participation in the diplomatic corps, the judiciary, the public prosecution authorities and the boards of directors of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
At present, women hold around 30% of the senior jobs related to the decision-making process, 10% of the jobs in the diplomatic corps, 7 seats on the Federal National Council, representing 17.5% of the total number of seats, one holding the post of Senior Deputy FNC Speaker. UAE women at present also hold four ministerial positions as well as the position of the Secretary General of the Cabinet.
UAE women are also involved in the Military and Police service, rising to the rank of Brigadier. One UAE woman currently serves as Chairperson of the Arab Women Organisation.
Women’s participation in economic activities, including the membership of the workforce, has risen since the founding of the Women Business Council. There are now over 22,000 women members of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, running nearly 25,000 economic and commercial projects with investments of up to AED45 billion.
On 9th December 2014, the UAE Cabinet agreed that there should be women members on the boards of trustees of all governmental authorities, institutions and companies.
Women in the United Arab Emirates have occupied the highest positions with the support of the wise leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates.
In addition, Emirati women can be found working efficiently and with a high degree of competence amongst the citizens working in the field of space research at the Emirates Space Agency and in the new development strategy based on a knowledge economy and innovation, including renewable energy, nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, the manufacture and launch of satellites, aviation technology industry, and technology for the military weapons industry.
The UAE’s efforts in the field of women’s empowerment is not restricted to achieving steady successes and achievements for Emirati women in all areas, but has also reached out to support of women in the region and the world in general, this being demonstrated in its welcoming, last September, of the hosting of the UN Women Coordination Office in Abu Dhabi, with the support of Sheikha Fatima, to strengthen the work of the UN and to expand its presence and activities in the region and the world.
The UAE has also announced its provision of aid to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, by donating US$5 million to the UN’s core budget between 2014 and 2016, to contribute to support of gender equality, women’s empowerment, and peace and security programmes.
Women in the country now rank first globally in educational attainment, according to the annual report of the World Economic Forum in 2012, by obtaining 10,000 points, and came in 81st position in political empowerment of women with 1,206 points on the WEF index, ranking 122nd globally in the economic participation index with 4,751 points.
The UAE also was first among Arab countries in the Gender Gap Index for 2012 issued by the World Economic Forum in 2013, which covered 113 countries.
According to the index, the UAE has maintained its lead in the Arab region in the field of the economic and political participation of women. The World Report ranks the gender gap in the countries surveyed in four key areas, namely access to health care, education, political participation and economic equality.
The election of the UAE to membership of the UN Executive Board for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women for a three-year period, 2013-2015, demonstrates the trust that the UAE has gained. It is also an indication of the results of the global report by the Global Agenda Council World Economic Forum in 2014, in which the UAE took first position globally in the women’s respect index, an international acknowledgment of the comprehensive achievements of Emirati women, particularly in achieving full gender equality, and the country’s notable progress in the political, economic, social, scientific and other women empowerment indexes.
The UAE continues its efforts to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women in all areas to integrate their full participation in the country’s sustainable development plans and programmes.
The Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced during the global Government Summit held in Dubai in February, 2015, the formation of the UAE Gender Balance Council, designed to promote the role of women as an essential partner in building the country’s future, in line with the UAE’s plans to strengthen their position in society and in employment, and their role as educators of the future generations, the mainstay of the family, and their role in the construction of the main building blocks of society.
Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak also launched, in March 2015, the Strategy for Empowerment of Emirati Women in the UAE, 2015-2021, which provides a framework and reference for all federal and government institutions and civil society organisations in developing plans and work programmes to empower women in all areas of sustainable development, in an effort to provide them with a good quality of life.
Her Highness expressed confidence in the strategy’s contribution to women’s future progress which the country seeks for its people through partnerships with government and federal institutions, civil society organisations and regional and international organisations and bodies, and for the strategy to serve as a framework in the development of plans and programmes in the UAE. This would raise the UAE to a position on a par with developed countries in the field of women’s empowerment and leadership.
President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has expressed his delight that women enjoy their rights. “We have made women’s empowerment an urgent national priority, and thanks to proper planning, our nation has achieved a good track record in the field of women’s rights where she enjoys full rights, and exercises activities without any discrimination,” he said, adding that, “All doors are open for women to achieve further progress and development.”
In the view of the Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, “The UAE went beyond the stage of women’s empowerment. We are now empowering the community through women.”
Sheikha Fatima also said that the concept of women’s empowerment in the UAE is no longer just a term or a theoretical concept, but has turned into a practical reality, embodied in the active participation of women in different spheres of public life, thanks to the wise leadership of His Highness President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and his vision and belief in the absolute necessity in investing in human capital as the most effective way of building the nation.
The United Arab Emirates has occupied a pioneering role in the empowerment of women in the region. They occupy leading posts in the public and private sectors in the UAE. Two thirds of students in government universities are women.
Emirati women also play a greater and more effective role in the development process in the UAE in all fields through the empowerment programme launched by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MoFA, said in a statement on World Women’s Day, that the Ministry had taken the steps to appoint three woman ambassadors abroad in Sweden, Spain and Montenegro, as well as the UAE Permanent Representative to UN and the UAE’s Consul General in Milan.
It added that there are 148 woman diplomats at the MoFA, while 30 woman diplomats work in UAE missions abroad. “This reflects the shrewd vision of the UAE leadership to back women, being essential components of Emirati community, whose efforts are on an equal footing with men in the comprehensive development being experienced by the UAE. Women are also in leading and decision making posts.
The UAE President is keen on empowering women in all fields and at all levels so that they become effective partners in the nation-building. “The state, since its inception on 2nd December, 1971, focused on women’s development by empowering them to play their natural role as effective partners in the sustainable development process”, Sheikh Khalifa stated.
He said on 9th December, 2009, that, “We look at women as a main component of the UAE community. They are partners of men in all work places. What has been attained by Emirati women was not accidental development, but a culmination of long efforts outlined by the late leader and UAE founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who had encouraged and empowered women to exercise her rights on an equal footing with men.”
Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said, “We have exceeded the phase of the women’s empowerment, as we enable the community through women, and our economy to strengthen women to play a greater role in the development of our government services as they occupy the leading posts.” Sheikh Mohammed said in his book, “Flashes of Thought” that, “We launch development projects run by women. We develop our infrastructure, health and education services even our military forces, depending on women in all these fields.” The existence of women in all these fields is logical, as about 70 percent of the graduates from universities today are women.
Sheikh Mohammed said, “Women constitute over 65 percent of the total staff in the Cabinet. 30 percent of them occupy the leading posts. Even my daily work depends mostly on women, as 85 percent of the team in my office are Emirati women.”
His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said that the UAE is well ahead in the empowerment of women to play their social role, a legacy chalked out by the late Sheikh Zayed by Sultan Al Nahyan. He noted that Sheikh Zayed had persevered to provide all the facilities and remove the impediments to encourage Emirati women to play their role in the development of the community – a move that has reflected on the UAE s humanitarian and social role at the global level.
Sheikh Mohamed underlined the fact that the themes of equality, solidarity and cohesion do not distinguish between man and woman.
H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Mother of the Nation, Chairwoman of the General Women s Union (GWU), Supreme Chairperson of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, has become a symbol of giving, determination and is seen as one of the most important woman leaders in the world, due to her outstanding and leading role in the field of empowering women and defending their cause not only in the UAE, but also regionally and internationally.
The effort that has been exerted by Sheikha Fatima in the field of supporting Emirati women since the establishment of the General Women’s Union, in August 1975, has become obvious in the light of the prestigious stature of the UAE women.
Emirati women become ministers, FNC members, judges and diplomats, in addition to their effective and prominent role in contributing to the overall development in the country through full participation alongside men in various work places.
Sheikha Fatima has also added other humanitarian dimensions to the general women’s work through her important initiatives, which aim at protecting women and providing all kinds of comprehensive care, in addition to safeguarding women’s dignity in various regions in the world.
In his speech while addressing the UN General Assembly in 2013, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, pointed out the successes that have been achieved by UAE women in building the society.
Sheikh Abdullah said that the UAE has achieved a host of outstanding successes in the field of women’s empowerment. He recognised their vital role in societies, noting that protection of women from discrimination in various areas, “is a necessity and should be given care by the international community.” He added that the UAE is proud of its serious steps in this regard, citing that the country has acquired an outstanding rank among the countries in the region in this field.
Sheikh Abdullah also said in a previous speech that the UAE’s constitution guarantees equal rights for men and women, where women enjoy the same legal status, as they have the right to get education and work on equal footing as men.
He added that the constitution prohibits any discrimination in salaries between women and men, pointing out that the UAE have joined a number of international agreements on human rights, including the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. He also emphasised support for the international efforts in women’s empowerment issues.
Sheikh Abdullah highlighted the fact that the UAE cooperates with international mechanisms for human rights, adding that the UAE is ranked 38th according to the Woman’s Empowerment Index.