“The UAE leadership has high aspirations forwomen since it believes they have the ability to play an influential role inthe country’s resurgence in various fields,” she added, pointing out thesignificant progress made in the political and economic participation of Gulfwomen, which has inspired women across the world.
Themeeting comes ahead of the October 17 opening of the UN Women Office in AbuDhabi, which will serve as a liaison office for GCC countries.Al Merridescribed the office as a crucial platform to promote cooperation between theUN and the countries of the region, including their various commissions andinstitutions, for women’s development and empowerment.Al Merrihighlighted the country’s major achievements in the field of women’sempowerment and gender balance, key among these being the political empowermentprogramme of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, whichwas launched in 2005.Shenoted that the programme has achieved its objectives of expanding politicalparticipation, enhancing the role of women in the Federal National Council andempowering women across all fields.Otherkey achievements Al Merri mentioned included the initiative to form the UAEGender Balance Council aimed at enhancing the role of women as partners inbuilding the future, and other initiatives dedicated to enhancing women’sactive participation in various fields.
She alsospoke of the exceptional support of Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak,Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the FamilyDevelopment Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood andChildhood and her commitment to enhance the status of women in the UAE and theArab world through initiatives and projects that allow them to achieve thehighest levels of participation in society.The mostimportant of these is the national strategy launched by Shaikha Fatima in March2015 to empower women leaders in the country through 2021 as well as provide aframework for all federal and government institutions and civil societyorganisations to develop plans for women’s empowerment in all areas ofsustainable development.Al Merrisaid that the UAE Gender Balance Council is supporting the implementation of aGender Balance Index which will provide a tangible measure of progress inwomen’s participation in various governmental commissions and institutions,apart from inspiring similar progress among private sector institutions.GOVERNMENTINITIATIVESS TO IMPROVE WOMEN EMPOWERMENT:Thegovernment of United Arab Emirates has tried to improve the roles played bywomen in the recent past.
This made the UAE a leader for rights of women in theArabian Countries. Before the discovery of oil in 1960, there were a very lessnumber of opportunities for women in the country outside their home and family.As per the constitution, equality for women on par with men is guaranteedincluding the areas like legal status, title claims and even in access to theeducation. The stepping stones for women empowerment were laid by the thenPresident, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahvan’s wife Sheikha Fatima bintMubarak. She was the founder of General Women’s Union (GWU) which still standsas a powerful component of State and in participation in the variousinitiatives of the organization. (Salama, 2008)Theleaders of Emirates have keenly tried to promote the complete participation ofthe women in society activities, aligned with the objectives of optimizing thehuman resources. Not only did the government take steps to improve thecondition of women in the UAE but also, there were associations formed whichwork autonomously for the improvement of life of women.
Not only operating intheir circles, but the six existing women associations were joined together toexpand their reach to the public more and more and to provide more services towomen.Thegovernment has launched a new statute of law under which, new laws would beincorporated on issues related to protecting women and also to provide familyguidance, divorce issues and compensation, etc. The UAE government has alsosigned agreements internationally to specific issues related to the women andchildren welfare. United Arab Emirates was the first country to establish acollege for women army recruits among the Gulf countries. The Dubai Women andChildren Shelter started by the government to protect women and children from domesticviolence the face every day.
Under this project, support and emotional carewould be provided to the sufferers of abuse and crimes such as humantrafficking. The government has launched many projects and awards for women toencourage them and make their role known to everyone. Example can be takenabout the Intelaq project which aims at increasing the participation of womenin the government departments.
Because of these new initiatives, the governmenthas offered women, the jobs that are reserved for men like the appointment ofFatima Saeed Obaid Al Awani as the country’s first female marriage registrar.(Salama, 2008)As aresult of all the initiatives and projects, United Arab Emirates was ranked at29th position among the 177 countries for Gender Empowerment Measures which isthe best rating any country in the Arab World has received. Along with this,the Chairperson of the GWU, Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak was awarded with theMohammad Medal, the highest honor given by the UN. (Women in the UAE, 2010)UAE women: A Journeyof EmpowermentABUDHABI, 27th August 2016 (WAM) – The empowerment of women has been one of thenotable success stories of the UAE. The UAE firmly believes that progress onissues relating to women’s rights is essential for building a tolerant andmodern society.Sincethe very foundation of the United Arab Emirates on December 2, 1971, women havebeen recognized as equal partners in national development by the UAE’s leaders,and the Government continues to pursue a strategy of empowering women in allfields.
The UAE’s society has comfortably accepted this approach, in a way thathas made women real partners and drivers in the country’s ongoing developmentprocess.GovernmentSupport Throughout the UAE’s history, the leadership of the country hasinvested heavily in women. The founding father of the UAE, the Late SheikhZayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, made the cause of women’s empowerment a toppriority of the UAE Government.
In this respect, every possible effort, was,and continues to be made, to support the talents of Emirati women and todevelop social conditions, which encourage women to fully participate in publiclife.SheikhZayed once said: “The woman is half of the society, any country whichpursues development should not leave her in poverty or illiteracy. I am on thewoman’s side; I always say this in order to uphold her right to work andparticipate in the building process of her country”.The UAEGovernment has successfully delivered on this objective by offering women education,employment, and training opportunities, and by introducing forward-thinking andprogressive laws and legislation that have paved the way for women’sempowerment.TheConstitution of the UAE guarantees equal rights for both men and women. Underthe Constitution, women enjoy the same legal status, claim to titles, access toeducation, the right to practice professions, and the right to inheritproperty. Women are also guaranteed the same access to employment, health andfamily welfare facilities.
Furthermore,the UAE has enacted a range of legislation and laws that provide legalprotection for women, and punish anyone who might compromise their dignity orpersonal safety. In this context, The UAE has signed all international treatieson protecting the rights of women. Among these are the Convention on theElimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, CEDAW, (2004), theHours of Work (Industry) Convention (1982), and the Equal RemunerationConvention (1996).
SinceHis Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan came to power in 2004, theissue of women’s empowerment has gained only further momentum. His HighnessSheikh Khalifa has led national efforts aiming to create permanent and positivechanges in women’ lives. He has done so by offering more education and trainingopportunities that would enhance the role and contribution of women in thepublic sphere.Furthermore,His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, PrimeMinister and Ruler of Dubai has also been at the forefront of encouragingwomen’s empowerment in the UAE. For instance, during the Government Summit inDubai in 2015, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed announced the formation of the”Emirates Council for Gender Balance” which aims to bridge the gendergap and boost the UAE’s efforts to evolve and enhance women’s role as keypartners in building the future of the nation.
While inMarch 2015, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the GeneralWomen’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation andPresident of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, launched theNational Strategy for Empowerment of Emirati Women in the UAE 2015-2021, whichprovided a guiding framework and reference for all federal and local governmentalinstitutions and civil society organizations in developing plans and workprograms to empower women in all areas.UAEWomen in progress The UAE is a recognized leader in terms of gender equality inthe region. This achievement comes from the fundamental belief that women andmen are equal partners in society. Through a series of public and privatesector initiatives, women are playing an increasingly stronger role in allfacets of Emirati society.Womengraduates in the UAE excel in government, engineering, science, health care,media, computer technology, law, commerce and the oil industry, amongst otherfields.
Eight women serve in the UAE Cabinet including Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi,Minister of State for Tolerance, and a 22-year-old Shamma Al Mazrui, who servesas Minister of State for Youth Affairs. Nine women hold seats within theFederal National Council (FNC), a consultative parliamentary body, accountingfor nearly one-quarter of the FNC’s membership. In November 2015, Dr. Amal AlQubaisi became President of the FNC, making her the first woman in the regionto lead a national assembly.
She previously had made history in 2006 as thefirst elected female to the FNC and in 2011 was appointed deputy speaker of theFNC.Womenmake up 20 percent of the diplomatic corps, and there are also several womenAmbassadors. Currently, the UAE Permanent Representative to the United Nations(Lana Nusseibeh), the Ambassador to Spain (Hessa Al Otaiba), the Ambassador toMontenegro (Hafsa Abdullah Mohammed Sharif Al Ulama), and the Consul General toItaly in Milan (Noura Mohammed Juma) are all women.Today,Emirati women constitute 66 percent of the national UAE labor market in fieldsas diverse as engineering, science, healthcare, media, computer technology,law, civil and military aviation, commerce, university lecturers, governmentand the oil industry. Around a third of Emirati women hold senior-levelpositions, and 15 percent of women work in highly skilled technical fields.Emiratiwomen have also made great strides in the world of business and investment. TheUAE Businesswomen Council, a nationwide network of business, professional, andacademic women, was set up in 2002.
Emirati businesswomen are runninginvestments worth more than AED 12 billion (USD 3.26 billion) in variousfields, including trade, industry, finance, real estate, tourism, fairs andexhibitions, construction and services. While in the banking sector alone, 38percent of employees are Emirati women.Inconclusion, Emirati women, who account for 49.3 percent of the nationalpopulation, are today at the cutting edge and forefront of UAE economic,political, and social life. Aided by the government’s unwavering commitment toempowering women and providing equal opportunities, the status of women withinthe UAE has flourished in parallel with the country’s growth since thefederation was established in 1971. It is evident, that this process will onlycontinue apace, and women will remain an ever important cornerstone for notonly the UAE’s present, but also its future.Women’s Political Participation:The government views the empowerment ofwomen as crucialto improving their level of politicalparticipation in the country.
Women should be atthe forefront of directing changein the region and gender-related policies are undoubtedly more effective whenwomen have themselves contributed to the legislative process.The UAE has taken a leadin the region to empowerwomen politically and, over thepast few years,women have begunto more visibly contribute in the political arena. A goodexample of thecountry’s successin this modernization process was demonstrated by the impressive role playedby women in the historic FNC elections of December 2006,an important milestone in the history of the UAE. Through the election process, UAE women demonstrated their ability to move into the nationalpolitical arena and compete as equalswith men.
Femalecandidates ran effective campaigns acrossthe UAE on a numberof wide ranging issuesfrom health andsocial welfare to education, economy to demographics and jobs, transportation,local housing andother substantive issues. While women made up 17.7 percent of the Electoral College, 63 of the452 candidates whocontested the polls were women. The voter turnoutamong women was also extremely high across the UAE. Interaction with womenahead of the elections revealedthat many of them were keen to participate because they were setting precedents for women’s politicalparticipation in the future.Dr.
Amal Al Qubaisi was the firstwoman in the UAE’s history to win a seat on the FNC,elected by the Abu DhabiElectoral College. In order to ensure fair representation, the governmentnominated eight other womenacross the remaining six emirates to the40-member FNC, which translates into a 22.5 percentshare of the seats – way above the Arabworld average of 9.3 percent and the worldaverage of 17 percent. This affirmative actionfrom government to ensure women’s representation in the FNC hasenabled women to prove themselves withinthe public sphere. At present,UAE women parliamentarians are active contributors to council meetings, contributing tothe review of draft laws,debating issues of publicconcern and representing their constituents on theFNC committees.
In future elections, women will undoubtedly seegreater electoral successes as they build individual public profiles andprofessional experience. Although thereare many challenges ahead, the will andthe support of the government in ensuring that womenplay a strongrole in thedevelopment and progress of the UAE, particularly in termsof contributing to the nationalpolicy debates was stronglydemonstrated in the country’s first election experience. Although the elections were a firststep in a wider participatory process, they were an immediate gain for women.
Women inthe WorkforceThe open constitutional framework for work opportunities hasgiven UAE womenthe chance to participate in the development of their societyalongside men. Thecontribution of national women to the economy increased significantlyfrom 9.6 percent in 1986 to 33.4 percent in 2007, which approximatelyrepresents a 3.5 percent average annual growth.4 Today UAEwomen account for59% of the nationalUAE labor forcemarket in fieldsas diverse as engineering, science, healthcare, media, computer technology,law, commerce, university lecturers,government and the oil industry.5 This positive development was not only theresult of substantial enrolment by women in education, but also because of the open socialattitudes towards women’s employment and the fact that workwas increasingly being seennot merely as a sourceof income but as part of establishing a personal as wellas professional identity.
Thereis also no doubt that women role models are encouragingwomen to break away fromtraditional areas of employment.According to2005 figures from the UAE Businesswomen Council, about 40 percent of women work in the publicsector, 18 percent in theprivate sector, 29 percent work as representatives of various organisations, 7.6percent are selfemployed, 7.
3 percentparticipate in partnership ventures, and six percent workin business. Entrepreneurship among women is also becoming increasingly popular andin fact,according to 2006 figures, the UAE has thelargest number of businesswomen in the region.6In some traditional areas, women employees are clearly dominantin both the national and expatriatecommunities. For example, 100 percent of nurseryschoolteachers, 55 percentof primary schoolteachers and 65 percent of intermediate andsecondaryschoolteachers are women.
UAE women compriseover 40 percent of all employees in education, at least 35 percent work in the health sectorand approximately 20 percentin social affairs.7 One out of every three doctors, pharmacists, technicians and administratorsis a woman, as is over80 percent of the nursingstaff. Continuing this trend,the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciencesat the Emirates University is attractingmore female applicants than male. The number of professional women in the media has risensharply since Federalinstitutions such as ZayedUniversity and the Higher Collegesof Technology introduced dedicated communicationcourses in an effort to equipmore women forprofessions in the communications and media industry.Women are alsodeeply involved in environmentalinitiatives, with two environmental NGOs in the UAEheaded by Emiratiwomen.
A leadingUAE University has recently introduced a master’sdegree in environmental sciences, and its firstgraduates were women, providing an important future sourceof UAE professionals who are interested in the UAE’s sustainabledevelopment strategy. Women leaders havealso emerged in non-traditional careers and sectorstraditionally dominated by men. In September 2008, the UAE Cabinet approved, for the first time,the appointment of two women ambassadors to its missionsin Sweden and Spain.The first femaleEmirati pilot at the GeneralCivil Aviation Authority, the firstfemale Emirati judgein the history of the UAEand the firstArmy Brigadier are role modelsfor Emirati women.
Recent changes in the UAE’s judiciary law to encompass women’s equal opportunity rights are in line withthe government’s commitment to promote morewomen to thehighest posts in the judiciary.Women are now activemembers of the military establishment. The UAE established the first Women’sArmy College in the Gulf region and is unique among the Gulf countries in permitting womento join the armed forces and police. This breakthrough was achievedduring the secondGulf War when thewomen of the country expressed interest in undergoing basic military trainingin order to be equipped to defendtheir homeland. Today, women work alongside theirmale compatriots in the military in every position, except those involving front-line combat.
The first batchof women graduated in 1992 from the Khawla bint Al Azwar Training College, forming the basis forthe creation of the special Women’s Corps,which now includes hundreds of members. And, as part of the police forces, theyperform a variety of jobs ranging from criminal investigation to customs control. In the fieldof arts and culture, womenhave also begun making rapidand impressive strides in mediums such as the arts, film,design, literature, media andmuch more. Womenare members of thecultural authorities and boardsdirecting government strategy in the fieldsof culture, artsand music and are actively involved and recognized for their contribution to cultural growthin the UAE. EducationThe stimulus for UAE women’s development has largely been accessto education, in which women have excelled, both in the local universities and alsointernationally under UAE government scholarship programs.
Women in the UAEare in factoutperforming malesat every educational level. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report,at 77 percent, “the UAE is registering the highest rate of females in higher education inthe entire world.”8 The United Nations also recognizes the UAE to be amongthe most developed nationsin educating women.
From rudimentarybeginnings, when educational opportunitieswere minimal, thepercentage of girls enrolled in primary education has grown rapidly.There werejust 19,000 registered schoolgirls in 1972-73. In contrast, the 1975 censuslisted 3,005women with their firstuniversity degree or equivalent.
Women literacy ratesmatch those of men as of 2007. Nearly half the studentsregistered in over 1,250 schools across the UAE are girls; about75 percent of allstudents in the UAE University are women; and, three out of everyfive students in the publichigher education system are women. On average, 62 percentof students enrolled in higher education and 70.4 percent of total graduates are women.
9 Of the 278 nationalstudents graduating from overseas universities in 2007/2008, 46 percent were women. 48 percent ofbachelor students, 38.3 percent of mastersand 55 percent of PhD holdersfrom universities abroadare female.10 In 2005,thefemale illiteracy ratein the UAEwas a low 2.4 percent, compared to 10 percentamong males and the average in the Arab Worldof over 50 percent.
With only 2.1 percent of females dropping out of educational institutions during 2006-2007, women are attaining thenecessary education to enter and excel in the jobmarket. According to a surveyby Tanmia, the UAE’s NationalHuman Resources and Development Authority, women at the UAE University have enrolled in a variety of specializations including the faculties ofhumanities and social sciences, education,sciences, medical and health science, information technology, business and economics, as well as food systems.
CONCLUSIONS ANDSUGGESTIONS:From thediscussion above, it is clearly evidential that the women are progressing inthe path of empowerment and also it is made clear that the government hasrecognized the role of women in improving the society and her family. Women areknown for making decisions in the right way at times of stake. The UAE has alsobeen seeing a great amount of progress in this area: The women literacy ratehas gone up to 90% in 2007; Increased number of women enrolled for the highereducation when compared to men (24% more than men); Every five students havethree female children in higher education; Women are 66% consisted in thegovernment sector jobs; Women entering into crucial areas like the military,air force and police are a few important achievements apart from many othersmade in the UAE towards women empowerment. This process of empowering women isa continuous and never ending path in which every step taken towards attainingwomen empowerment would certainly earn the country and the society a lot.Whilethe above discussion states that women empowerment is a necessary fordevelopment of any country, there are also few factors that bar the progress ofwomen and hence that of the country. Those are to be dealt with utmost focusand attention. The government should try to launch more programs in order toencourage female participation in the arts, culture and other social activities.
It is also beneficial if the government provides all kind of monetary or mentalsupport needed for female entrepreneurs which would benefit in attaining moredevelopment. Women in UAE are into the fields of army, police and air-forcewhich were perceived as only male oriented areas earlier. This shows that withproper amount of training and guidance, women can perform well even inshop-floor related jobs. Women can be provided coaching in work related issuesand also they can be educated regarding the traditions and culture so that theculture which is being followed from centuries would not get affected and alsothere would be development.From allthe discussion above, it can be concluded that women are key role players inthe development of any economy and an economy which gives a considerable amountof importance to this would definitely see progress towards success anddevelopment of the society as a whole.
Also, it can be said that with propercare and education methods, the traditions wouldn’t get disturbed and so is theprogress of a country.