Women in the UAE have taken rapid steps towards advancement, achieving, in record time, what their counterparts around the world had achieved in many decades.
This achievement is the result of the wise leadership’s faith in the capabilities of Emirati women and the importance of empowering them, to strengthen their effective role in the country’s sustainable development, as well as the support of H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, for the effective role of women in the nation's development process.
The legislative environment in the country has created the possibility of the positive participation of women, as the UAE’s constitution provides women with their rights and makes them equal with men in all areas.
Noura Al Suwaidi, Director of the General Women’s Union, noted that Sheikha Fatima had launched the National Strategy for the Empowerment and Leadership of Women in the UAE 2015-2021, with the aim of providing a general framework and reference for all federal and local government authorities, as well as private and civil community organisations, to guide their work plans and programmes to provide a dignified life for women, and empower them to lead, initiate and participate in all professional areas of sustainable development, and achieve their desired quality of life.
She explained that the strategy aims to empower and build the capabilities of Emirati women, and eliminate the obstacles facing their participation in all sectors, to become an effective and leading element in the nation’s sustainable development, take their appropriate position in society, and provide honourable examples of women’s leadership in all local, regional and international events.
Al Suwaidi noted that the strategy relied on establishing its goals based upon several key pillars, which are the UAE’s constitution, the Federal Government Vision 2021, the strategies of local governments, the Conduct and Ethics of the Emirati Citizen report, the Beijing Platform for Action and the Future Development Plan 2015, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, CEDAW, and related international agreements, the Strategy for the Advancement of Arab Women, and the Global Competitiveness Index.
The presence of Emirati women in the Federal National Council, FNC, is considered a qualitative leap in parliamentary work and a clear message about the importance and effectiveness of their presence in politics, as the percentage of women in the FNC during the 14th Legislative Term was 22.2 percent, with nine members in 2015.
Mariam Mohammed Abdullah Al Shamsi, Director of the Gender Database Department at the General Women’s Union, stressed that the political participation of women is necessary and is not a luxury, and Sheikha Fatima is a key player in encouraging women to benefit from the available opportunities to participate in sustainable development.
In 2015, members of the FNC, during the 1st Procedural Session of the 1st Ordinary Session of the 16th Legislative Term that was held at its headquarters in Abu Dhabi, elected Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi as a Speaker of the FNC, the first Emirati and Arab woman to head a parliamentary organisation.
In 2014, the UAE took the leading international position in the Women’s Respect Index, in terms of preserving their dignity and strengthening their stature, as well as the first position on the Arab level in women’s empowerment.