The UAE is trying to change the stereotyping of women – that a woman in the Arab or Muslim world is a second-class citizen.
In a world that assumes Arab and Muslim nations demean women and give them little-to-no authority, the UAE has made it a major mission to prove them wrong and turn such a mind-set around, a cabinet official told a 2500-strong crowd of Emirati students and military servicemen.
“Women empowerment is one of the greatest achievements in the UAE,” said Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister for Federal National Council Affairs (FNCA) and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
“The UAE is trying to change the stereotyping of women – that a woman in the Arab or Muslim world is a second-class citizen. But women here are the first and they are just as powerful as men,” he said on the first day of the Mohamed Bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations 2018 event, held on October 8-9 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec), under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
In his message, Dr Gargash said that the UAE’s vision has inspired the society to enhance the opportunities provided for all women, an achievement that had been driven by the Mother of the Nation, Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak.
“The women of the UAE have been worthy of this responsibility,” Gargash told the crowd, adding that ladies would have a crucial role to play in nation-building.
They are already achieving incredible milestones, he said, with one as young as 22 appointed as the world’s youngest minister, Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth. Others have been long serving the country, helping its leaders make critical decisions, including Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, President of the Federal National Council (FNC) and the first female leader of a national assembly, not only in the UAE, but also in the Arab world.
Without a doubt, the UAE has already overcome the stereotype of what an Arab and Muslim woman appears to be “in the eyes of the world,” Gargash said. “We have proven that women are just as capable of climbing the ladder as men, no matter their age or background.”
He told the students that they must represent what the UAE is all about, staying humble and holding its values close to their hearts.
Country is with you, CP assures youth
The youth will always have the support of the government and the country, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said in a tweet he posted during the majlis event.
“With the launch of the second session of the MBZ Majlis for Future Generations, we resume the journey of creating the future of the UAE and its leadership globally,” Sheikh Mohamed said.
The country’s leaders trust that the future generations will make the nation proud, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi said. “We strongly believe that young people have the greatest potential strength among us.”
Follow values, be ready to face challenges: Minister tells youth
Emirati students studying abroad must always carry their values and traditions and set an unprecedented example of the UAE, even when faced with racism or challenges, said the youngest minister in the UAE.
Shamma bint Sohail Al Mazrouei Al Mazrouei, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, addressed 2,500 students on Monday about the importance of remaining faithful to one’s values and shared some personal obstacles that she faced during her studies abroad.
Shamma bint Sohail Al Mazrouei addresses the students during the Mohamed Bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations.-Photo by Ryan Lim
“I will never forget the day that I was questioned by one teacher about my hijab,” the 24-year-old minister told the crowd at the kick-off of the Mohamed Bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
“The teacher asked me: Why are you wearing a hijab, when your parents are not even here?” recalled Shamma Al Mazrouei.
“I told her: My parents may not be here, but my values are still with me.”
Urging the UAE’s future generation of leaders to pursue their own professional goals, she said: “Study not to fulfil the desires of those around you, but to fulfil the goals and aspirations you set for yourself. Follow your own ideals and values on the path to success.”
The world’s youngest appointed minister told the students to be ready to face challenges in life, and without challenges, one cannot learn to better himself. She added: “I’m very lucky to be a student within the UAE Cabinet, and I see myself in that way because I’m surrounded by leaders and ministers that I learn from each day.”
The minister highlighted the value of hard work as she offered examples of self-growth and development from her experiences. Al Mazrouei described how when deciding which study option she should pursue, her parents encouraged her to choose sciences, rather than the arts. “I realised the true advantages of my father’s advice only later in life,” she added.
After gaining a bachelor’s degree in Economics from New York University Abu Dhabi, she earned her master’s degree in Public Policy at the University of Oxford.
“Oxford was tough. I was one of the youngest students, most of the students were 40-50 years old, but it was a pleasure to gain knowledge. I realised that I had a responsibility as an Emirati to represent my country, and that’s why I worked so hard.”
KT NANO EDIT
Equal opportunity for all
The UAE government has walked the talk on women empowerment and has ensured there are no barriers that stop women from realising their dreams and fulfilling their potential. Here is a society that offers equal opportunities to all. And it is for the world to take notice and get inspired from the initiatives in the UAE.