We were delighted to see Amal Al Qubaisi elected Chairperson of FNC,first Arab woman in the region to hold such post pic.twitter.com/5gjDQ1SQF4
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) November 18, 2015
Yesterday we witnessed a monumental moment in the history of the UAE’s journey in empowering women. This moment was when Her Excellency Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi chaired the UAE’s Federal National Council (FNC) as the first appointed woman to ever take this position. It represents a hugely important moment in time for women empowerment in the country, and proves that the UAE walks the talk and practices what it preaches when it comes to women.
H.E. Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi has a history of great achievements backing her appointment. She started working in academia after graduating with a PhD in Architecture from University of Sheffield in year 2000[i]. H.E. has been in a large number of committees and organizations that focused on architectural heritage and preservations. Her most recent positions are General Manager of Abu Dhabi Education Council and Board Member in Abu Dhabi Executive Council[ii].
Her appointment as Chairperson of the FNC will serve as a precedent for having a woman as chair in an Arab parliament. For a person like myself who is always fascinated by case studies and data, this is a great foundation to build case studies on what impacts it would have on an Arab community and society with women leading the parliament. Statistics have been showing that companies led by women (or have more women on their board of management) perform better on equity, return on sales, and return on investments[iii] [iv], which surely means higher productivity in the overall work environment. So in the case of having a woman chair a parliament, how will that be reflected in the decisions that will be made, in the regulations that will be revised, and on the community overall?
Last week, I was invited to give a talk in the Young Women’s Leadership Summit about my experience and what pushed me to thrive. And I felt the responsibility to not only talk about my experience, but to also prepare the girls attending the summit for the world they are walking into, and what it is like to be a woman in it. I told them in my talk that a few of them will definitely be the first women in the careers they will choose, and they need to take that role as a huge responsibility because the weight of future female generations in those career paths will be on their shoulders. Whether we like it or not, any mistake done by them might not be attributed to a normal human mistake but a woman mistake. So they have to work double hard to sometimes get half the recognition, but it’s ok, because women are capable of that, and we can do this. I concluded my talk with a quote from Madeline Albright, who was the first woman to ever be appointed the role of Secretary of State in the US: “There is plenty of room in the world for mediocre men, there is no room for mediocre women. And so you have to lead.”
The role of H.E. Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi is tremendous from all angles. It is a big responsibility to lead the FNC and ensure she can leave an impact on the community with whatever authority she’s given. But it’s also important because she’s the first woman to take this role, so she will be setting the expectations of women in such roles. Any mistake she might make might not be attributed as a human mistake but taken against the entire female gender, and any positive impact might be associated as a result of her feminine side, not her long experience and attained wisdom. People might sometimes adopt a blind spot to all the great achievements she ever led before this role, and may only scrutinize every step she makes as the steps of the “woman” who is now leading the FNC.
I wish Her Excellency the best of luck in her new role, and I’m sure she we will make us all proud. She inspires us all, women and men, to aspire for the biggest of roles, and to break the glass ceiling. Thank you to our country’s great leadership for appointing her as the FNC chairperson. I hope this will translate into more women being voted into the FNC, rather than leaving it to the leadership to place them in once the voting is over.
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