This year will be significant in the advancement of women empowerment in the UAE.
Women have been hailed as inspirers of generations and partners in the UAE’s path to success, by the country’s rulers.
On the eve of International Women’s Day, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, took to Twitter to say that on the occasion, “we celebrate mothers, sisters, daughters, partners in development and colleagues in the UAE’s march”.
He also posted a video compilation that began with excerpts from his Q&A at the World Government Summit in 2017 where he spoke of women’s equal role in society.
“We need men and we need women. If today, women make up a third of the Cabinet, I tell you that in the next few years they will make up 50 per cent,” he said during his speech.
“We have some women in our society whose value is that of a thousand men,” he said.
The rest of the video shows women saying what their dreams are for the future, with some saying they have already achieved their goal.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, also paid tribute to women on Wednesday.
“With the celebration of International World Women’s Day, we salute our mothers, sisters and daughters and all the women in the world,” he said on Twitter.
He said women remain a symbol of love, happiness and strength and they take part in the development of this country.
Describing them as the “pulse of life, maker of men and inspirer of generations”, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed wished women a happy International Women’s Day.
UAE ministers and government officials also commended the women’s achievements, namely Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, known as the Mother of the Nation, whom they been hailed as a role model and pioneer of women’s rights.
Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, speaker of the Federal National Council, said Emirati women are living in a time of prosperity, spearheaded by Sheikha Fatima, chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation.
Dr Al Qubaisi, who is the region’s first female leader of a national assembly, described Sheikha Fatima as “the pioneer of giving, the inspiration for Emirati, Gulf and Arab women, and who also inspired every success story witnessed by the country.”
Held each year on March 8, International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It also serves as a reminder of the need to achieve complete gender equality.
This year will be particularly significant in this realm for the UAE. In a week, Abu Dhabi will host the Special Olympic World Games and welcome a record number of women athletes.
Almost 40 per cent of the athletes competing in the Games will be women, with more than 2,800 women due to take to the playing field. More than 400 of these athletes are from the Middle East and North Africa region.
‘Big gaps’ must be addressed to reach gender equality in Middle East
Hire more women to boost economic growth in the Middle East
International Women’s Day will remain necessary until worldwide equality is achieved
The Games will also host the first women athletes from Saudi Arabia, with 14 of them due to land in the UAE over the next few days.
Also this year, FNC elections will be held and, on the orders of President Sheikh Khalifa, female members must comprise 50 per cent of the council when it’s all over.
“Today, Emirati women, through the FNC’s coming elections, are at the verge of a new historic era of national giving. A historic challenge awaits them, and we are confident that they will overcome these challenges, as well as dazzle everyone and highlight their excellence [ …] to affirm their worthiness to receive complete empowerment,” Dr Al Qubaisi said.
“[Emirati women] will remain the key partner of their brothers, men, in various national sectors, in creating the future and achieving the targets of the UAE Vision 2021, which aims to make the UAE one of the best 25 countries in the world in terms of achieving gender equality by 2021.”
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, agreed with Dr Al Qubaisi, saying women have made great strides and proven their capabilities in all areas of life.
He said women have become partners in leadership and decision-making worldwide.
Sheikh Mansour also lauded the contributions of Sheikha Fatima, who launched the National Strategy for Women Empowerment and Pioneering in the UAE 2015-2021 which aims to achieve women’s empowerment and remove all obstacles facing their participation in all sectors, reported state news agency Wam.
He also noted the leadership’s role in encouraging women in the UAE and supporting women facing hardships worldwide through various initiatives.
These initiatives include 14 projects that the Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation is implementing, at a cost of $53 million (Dh194.5m), to offer aid to women in various countries.
Their health projects include the Zayed Motherhood and Childhood Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan. The charity’s education projects include the Islamic Studies College in Bosnia, the Zayed Academy for Girls in New Zealand, the Nursing College of An Najah University in Palestine, and the Zayed Orphanage in Kenya.