Zulaikha Al Sayed Al Hashemi wearing a pilot’s cap with Emirati pilots of Etihad Airways, Shereefa Al Beloushi (third from right) and Aisha Al Mansouri (second from left), Engineers Alia Rashid Al Shamsi, (second from right) and Muna Al Hadram (left) with Atija Ali Taresh Al Herbi, (right) during a meeting of First Generations Emirati women with the staff of Etihad Airways to celebrate Emirati Women’s Day at Etihad Airways Training Academy in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News
Gulf News Samir Salama, Associate Editor
Abu Dhabi: The UAE is a leader in gender equality in the region, providing women with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes.
“I believe that constructing a modern state requires women’s efforts,” said Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the nation and women’s premier supporter.
Shaikh Zayed urged women to storm their way into education at all stages to achieve their goals.
While the literacy rate of both women and men in the UAE is close to 95 per cent today, more women than men complete secondary education and enrol in university and post-graduate institutions.
Some 95 per cent of girls and 80 per cent of boys who complete their secondary education enrol in a higher education institution in the UAE or travel abroad to study.
Shaikh Zayed maintained that women’s political participation is a right safeguarded by the constitution.
Eight women serve in the UAE Cabinet — including Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance, who was recognised by Forbes magazine as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world.
Eight women also hold seats within the Federal National Council (FNC), a consultative parliamentary body, accounting for 20 per cent of the House’s membership.
In November last year, Dr Amal Al Qubaisi became Speaker of the FNC, making her the first woman in the region to lead a national assembly. She previously had made history in 2006 as the first elected female to the FNC and in 2011 was appointed deputy speaker of the FNC.
Women fill two-thirds of all public-sector posts, with 30 per cent in senior and decision-making positions.
Women make up 20 per cent of the diplomatic corps, and there are also several women ambassadors, including one to the United Nations, Spain, Portugal and Montenegro, and a woman Consul General in Milan.
In September, 2013, Lana Nusseibeh became the first woman permanent representative to the UN. Ambassador Nusseibeh was also the fifth woman in the country to serve as an ambassador.
Since the foundation of the country, Shaikh Zayed believed that the UAE, in its march towards development, cannot afford to neglect to offer women – who are half of society – their role in the development of the country; otherwise, he believed, it would be as though the country were relinquishing a valuable natural asset.
In this vein, he realised that Her Highness 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, could have a sizable influence in altering the status and living conditions of women in her country. And, indeed, she has attained that goal, through diligent efforts and plenty of assistance from Shaikh Zayed, and she has since distinguished herself among peers, Arab and international alike — and her flurry of achievements continues to this day.
95 per cent of girls enrol in a higher education
8 women serve in the UAE Cabinet
8 women are members of Federal National Council
20 per cent of FNC members are women
Two-thirds of all public-sector posts held by women
30 per cent of senior decision-making positions held by women
20 per cent of the diplomatic corps comprise women