The Development Of Women Role In The UAE

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Article in brief: the author talks about the role of women in the development of the Emirati society and their achievements since the formation of the Union back in 1971.

ArtWork by Amna Al Saleh (@tepingi)
ArtWork by Amna Al Saleh (@tepingi)

Every year, on the 8th of March, the world celebrates International Women’s Day, a day when the world shows its appreciation and respect to women in addition to celebrating women’s achievements in different fields. The UAE commemorates this day like the rest of the world in celebration of women’s achievement since the formation of the UAE in 1971. Traditionally, women’s roles were focused on taking care of the family. Carrying day to day household activities such as cooking, cleaning, collecting wood and taking care of the kids were their main tasks.

However, in some instances these roles would change and women would assume the role of a breadwinner and start working outside their homes. Most old pictures of the UAE show local women selling fish and vegetables in the market alongside their male counterparts. Additional family income would come from selling perfumes, tailoring and other local handicrafts. Their traditional role in the society continued throughout the years until the formation of the UAE in 1971. Since then women’s role began to change and they assumed new roles in the young state.

Unfortunately, there is a stereotype about the Middle Eastern societies that they oppress women and don’t support women’s development. The UAE has proven the opposite through its initiatives and women development programs. The UAE constitution declares clearly that both men and women are equal in their rights and obligations. It provides equal opportunities to education, health care and jobs.

The late Shaikh Zayed, on various occasions, encouraged women in the UAE to study and work. He was a strong believer and a true supporter of women empowerment. His wife, Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak, is known to be a key driver behind the success of women of the UAE; international bodies have recognized her achievements and she has received many awards for that. In the early 70’s, she founded the UAE Women Federation, the first organization in the country that focused on women’s development and implemented various initiatives in education and social life enhancement.

Today, after 43 years on the formation of the UAE, women to achieve remarkable results in education, workplace and social development. They are represented in the federal government by four female ministers and make up about 17% of the Federal National Council. During the government summit held in February 2015, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai announced the establishment of the UAE council for gender balance. The council aims to enhance women role as a key driver in the success of the nation. Such initiatives will open up new opportunities for women’s development and social empowerment.

Given all that, I strongly believe that in the coming years we will see women holding what would be normally considered as male-dominated leadership positions, and eventually increasing competition between men and women. Therefore, I urge all men to gear up and be ready for the competition.

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