August 28: A day to show you are with women

UAE to celebrate achievements of Emirati women on 'Emirati Women's Day'.

Once again the UAE leadership proved it is women-friendly and it will always stand by the side of women. From this year, August 28 will be celebrated as Emirati Women’s Day.

To quote the late president, Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan: “The woman is half of the society, any country which pursues development should not leave her in poverty or illiteracy. I am on the woman’s side; I always say this in order to uphold her right to work and participate in the building process of her country.”

Commemorating this noble vision of the UAE’s founding father, Shaikha 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, announced on Monday that August 28 will be celebrated as the Emirati Women’s Day from this year.

Women from the capital gathered at the headquarters of Etihad to celebrate the inauguration of the first Emirati Women’s Day on Monday morning.

The event, which was attended by various local achievers, was created to raise awareness on the crucial role of Emirati women, not only as mothers, daughters, sisters and wives, but also as strong women who take on leadership positions. Inspiring stories of women in the aviation sector was the highlight of the event.

The group of five dynamic women Dr Nadia Bastaki, Haya Al Ahbabi, Muna Abdul Kabeer, Alaa Al Rahma and Noura Al Mulla, shed light on their successful stories, as well as challenges that they often face in the aviation industry.

Success stories included that of Captain Aysha Al Hamili, who is the first female pilot in UAE and the Permanent Representative of the UAE on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), based in Montreal. Al Hamili highlighted on the idea of continuing the visions set by UAE’s leaders.

“I continue to be inspired by those who make a change and have an impact on our society. Our leaders are our source of inspiration, they teach us that there is nothing impossible if we worked hard to achieve it,” she said.

With today’s modern society, one may often witness women taking on tasks that may have not been common decades ago. This fact was also greatly highlighted during the event.

Mona Walid, Etihad Airways Vice President Talent Acquisition, believes that creating a solid foundation, which equalises the roles of both genders, is a vital measure within any society. “Since the launch of Etihad Airways in 2003, we have focused our efforts on attracting and developing young Emirati men and women in equal measure to be future aviation leaders at national and global levels.” The success of aviation in UAE will thus dramatically rise, as an estimation of Dh100 billion will be spent by 2020. Walid also noted the immense contribution women have made to the industry.

“We currently employ 1,269 Emirati women covering various roles, representing 49 per cent of a total of 2,560 UAE nationals in our workforce. These include 46 female pilots and five engineers and technicians. Our Vice President Medical Services, Dr Nadia Bastaki, is also the first Emirati woman to be registered as a specialist in aviation medicine,” she pointed out.

On the sidelines of the event, Dr Nadia Bastaki told Khaleej Times that there is a journey to every woman’s success.

“The most important factor is to focus on your own goal, that is the main issue,” she said, adding that, “you must gain as much experience as you possibly can and set a pedestal for yourself in order to achieve success internationally, not just locally.”

She also shared her early experiences of rejection within the industry.”In the beginning I was refused by the biggest aviation companies.” Muna Abdul Kabeer, Etihad Airways Aircraft Engineer, also highlighted some challenges she encountered by those who doubted her role. “The biggest challenge is when others say ‘you are a woman, this role is not for a woman.’ They often say different things, but in the end they only mean one thing.”

The lack of support by others didn’t stop the young Emirati from having a bright vision.

“When I was four, I told my father that I want to be an astronaut. Everyone else laughed and doubted me, yet he was the only one who said, Muna if you want to pursue your dream, then why not?”

The panel of women, who attended the function, therefore urged for a wider arena of support for women within the society and within the aviation industry.

Dr Bastaki thus noted that it is not simply about gender equality when it comes to the roles men and women hold in the workforce.

“We don’t want equality,” she pointed out, “we just want people to simply understand that what men can do, women can also do.”


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