Emirati Women’s Day goes out to the dream chasers

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UAE women have become symbols of progress who have done the nation proud

Abu Dhabi: As an integral part of a country’s human resource capital, the role of women is intrinsic to every nation’s progress and stability and, in the UAE, the role of Emirati women in shaping and accelerating the pace of progress has been exemplary. Their empowerment is one of the building blocks of UAE’s success, a vision it has pursued with absolute determination since its inception, a fact that Emirates Women’s Day reiterates every year.

The need to institute Emirati Women’s Day was perfectly expressed by Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union (GDW), Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, who stated that the concept of women’s empowerment in the UAE is no longer just a term or a theoretical concept, but a reality. This is borne out by the diversity of contribution by Emirati women to UAE’s growth, evidenced across the spectrum of nation-building — from aviation, military, police, science and technology, environmental sciences, government sector to banking and entrepreneurship, and much more. In every aspect of nation-building, Emirati women have been equal partners, enabling the UAE to set standards that the world applauds.

Emirati Women’s Day marks the anniversary of the creation of the UAE’s General Women’s Union, headed by Shaikha Fatima.

Gulf News speaks to Emirati women from different walks of life on their journey to empowerment.

1) Azza Al Qubaisi, Emirati jewellery artist, sculptor and product designer. She is often referred to as the first Emirati jewellery artist.

Emirati women have never lost their focus on family even as they celebrate achievements in all walks of life, Al Qubaisi says. “Family is the building block of a society, which nourishes the generations that take the country forward,” she said while sharing her thoughts about women’s empowerment and redefining women’s contributions to society.

“I think the most important door opened to women since the country has progressed is the opportunity for education and personal development. That has helped women of all backgrounds to choose their own path in life,” she said. She believes Emirati women follow the vision of the nation’s wise leadership.

“Women’s empowerment has become a major achievement of the UAE. Women have to become symbols of progress that makes a nation proud of them,” Al Qubaisi said about the image of the Emirati woman heading into the future.

The unlimited support received from the leadership makes her proud of being an Emirati women. “The community also supports women’s leadership and gives us equal opportunity. That also makes me proud,” she said.

Unique attributes of Emirati women

Previous generations of Emirati women called upon their many notable qualities to manage their family alone when their husbands were away in the pearl diving days. These deep-rooted qualities have been passed on through the generations: strong will, patience, mental strength, management skills, sympathy and empathy.

Role models

Dr Rawda Abdullah Al Mutawa

She was the first female teacher and the first woman to drive a car in the country. She was Assistant Under-Secretary of Education in 1984-1985

Sana Darwish Al Ketbi

She won the Abu Dhabi Award for her dedicated efforts for special needs children and women in the emirate. She also contributed to the establishment of the General Women’s Union and the Abu Dhabi Women’s Development Association

2) Najla Omar Al Dookhi, head of Media at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), Dubai.

Ninety-nine per cent of the Emirati women carry out the same responsibilities as men in society, says Al Dookhi. “An Emirati woman has the privilege to lead a life like that of men. She is almost doing the same, unlike the status of women in many other societies in the region,” Al Dookhi said, while talking about the doors that had opened to Emirati women. “In some sectors, women do even better than men. This shows that almost all doors of opportunities in all walks of life were already open to Emirati women,” she said.

Al Dookhi feels that Emirati women have to make their presence felt more strongly in international arenas. “Only then will the world come to know more about the successful and privileged life of Emirati women inside the UAE. Because, still, some people in outside the world are not aware of the Emirati woman’s unique position in society,” she said.

The fact that Emirati women are occupying public positions like ministers and senior diplomats has already made an impact on the international stage, she feels. “Still, Emirati women have to do more. We can become the de facto ambassadors of a nation that prides itself in the achievements of its women,” Al Dookhi said.

She is proud of being an Emirati woman for the unconditional support received from the visionary leadership.

Given the categorical support from the leadership, she urges women to take it upon themselves to excel in their respective fields.

Unique attributes of Emirati women

Trustworthiness

Self-confidence

Self-reliance

Supportive

Role models

Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairperson of the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment.

Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance

3) Nada Al Bedwawi, Emirati swimmer. She was chosen to carry the UAE flag at the Rio Olympics opening ceremony in 2016.

“I believe this is the best time to be an Emirati because the country is enjoying the fruits of the contributions of our fathers and our grandfathers. Now it’s time for us — the new generation — to give back to our nation and to show our gratitude,” says Al Bedwawi.

When she marched with the UAE flag at the Rio Olympics opening ceremony, the world noticed her as it symbolised that Arab women were breaking stereotypes in a conservative society and taking giant strides in sports. Al Bedwawi also clocked 33.42 seconds in the 50-metre freestyle heats to set a personal best time at the Rio Games.

“I am proud that our government bodies in all sectors are playing a big role in creating an environment in which women get the opportunities and support they need to pursue their chosen careers!” she said.

She believes education is the most important door opened to Emirati women as the country has progressed in the past three decades.

“Today, it is not difficult at all to be a woman scientist in the UAE. Women here are succeeding as doctors, pilots, researchers or top government officials. This is because of the Government’s support. Women are able to overcome any obstacles and accomplish so many things.”

This support, she says, has helped women like her to make their presence felt on the international stage.

“Today, Emirati women are representing our country in many international arenas. Our generation is proactive and trying to increase their presence on the world stage,” Al Bedwawi said.

She feels it is the responsibility of each woman to portray the right image of Emirati women’s privileges in society. “We are successful, independent and beautiful. We balance our personal, family and professional lives!”

Al Bedwawi is proud of the Emirati heritage. “The UAE, to our generation, is a fascinating melting pot of nationalities and ethnicities… all living in unity,” she said.

Unique attributes of Emirati women:

Proactive

Ambition to make their mark on world stage

Extend hospitality that creates a family atmosphere

Role models:

Hanan Al Muhairi — she’s her aunt and one of the pioneering Emirati ladies in women’s horse riding.

Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance

Source: Gulf News