(WAM): UAE celebrates Emirati Women’s Day on 28th August, an annual event that celebrates inspiring Emirati women, supported by the government. This year’s celebrations will be held under the theme, "Women are the Icons of Tolerance," to promote the values of tolerance, which is a national priority. Official statements, popular interactions and media coverage reflect the position of Emirati women on government, diplomatic and parliamentary levels, as well as their success in the areas of space, clean energy and other specialisations.
Emirati Women’s Day coincides this year with the Federal National Council(FNC) election, which will witness considerable progress in terms of women’s participation following the decision to raise the parliamentary participation of women to 50 percent.
UAE women have achieved continuous success in recent years and have joined the FNC over the last three years either through elections or appointment, reaching the highest levels after the appointment of Dr. Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi as Speaker of the FNC.
According to The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2018 the UAE - which ranked 121st out of 149 globally - has seen improvements in gender parity in the legislators, senior officials and managers and healthy life expectancy indicators. As per the report Iceland tops.
According to official statistics, women currently account for 66 percent of the UAE’s labour force, and have a strong presence in education, health and banking, exceeding the presence of men.
The UAE leads Arab countries in terms of gender balance, according to an annual index issued by the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP. It also ranks high globally in terms of gender equality, especially with regards to literacy and participation in secondary and higher education, according to a report from the Forum World Economic Forum in 2016.
In education, 77 percent of Emirati women enrol in higher education after secondary school and make up 70 percent of all university graduates in the UAE.
Emirati women also have a strong presence in legal and civil society institutions, especially in the media and community sectors. Women’s organisations, such as the General Women’s Union, GWU, and the Gender Balance Council, have drafted comprehensive strategies to encourage the participation of women and empower them in all areas of life.
In 2015, the UAE launched the National Strategy for Empowerment of Emirati Women that provides a framework for all federal and local government entities, the private sector, as well as civil society organisations, to set plans and provide decent living standards and work for women.
The UAE Gender Balance Council launched a guide in September 2017 entitled, 'Gender Balance Guidee: Actions for UAE Organisations', as a resource to develop clear procedures and adopt concrete action plans to entrench gender balance practices in the workplace.
Several figures have ensured women's empowerment within the country. A monumental figure for Emirati women's empowerment is Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the GWU, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation. Her Highness was a key figure in establishing the General Women's Union, and continues to be a pioneer in the UAE women's movement through various programmes and initiatives that not only bolster women in the country, but also regionally and internationally.
Another instrumental figure in ensuring Emirati women are active participants in the country’s development process, was the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who believed in the great potential women possess, and their key role, as equal partners, to take part in the development of the nation.
The UAE’s leadership, led by President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and the Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates have carried on this legacy and have encourage women further to advance their role in the country's development.
Currently, an Emirati woman chairs the FNC, and there are nine female ministers who serve in the UAE cabinet. Women also account for 66 percent of public sector positions and 75 percent of jobs in the health and education sectors, and have proven their qualities in the sectors of space, justice and artificial intelligence, AI.
According to the World Economic Forum's 'Global Gender Gap Report 2018', the UAE was one of the Middle East and North Africa region's best performing countries in terms of closing their overall gender gaps, achieving a total score of 64 percent.
During the FNC’s current 14th legislative chapter, women account for 22.2 percent of its members. In 2015, the number of commercial businesses owned by Emirati women totalled 22,000 businesses owned by 12,000 women, with investments exceeding AED45 billion. Emirati businesswomen account for 21 percent of the total number of businesswomen in Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, member countries.
In terms of culture, Emirati women have contributed to the cultural and intellectual mobility of the community, through becoming leading examples of artistic and intellectual innovation. Today, the position of Minister of Culture and Community Development is occupied by Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi.