UAE celebrates Emirati Women’s Day

Published August 28th, 2016 - 09:54 GMT
Emirati women take a selfie during the opening festivities for the Arab Media Forum in Dubai. (AFP/File)
Emirati women take a selfie during the opening festivities for the Arab Media Forum in Dubai. (AFP/File)

Upon landing on the moon back in 1969, Neil Armstrong's quote, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind", reverberated with millions around the world.

Today, the UAE is turning that phrase on its head, more to the tune of: "One small step for man, one giant leap for Emirati woman."

For the second year in a row, the UAE leadership is proving just how women-friendly it is by observing today as Emirati Women's Day.

In 2015, Shaikha 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, declared August 28 as an annual day to mark Emirati women's achievement.

On Saturday she tweeted: "Emirati women today are well qualified to take a greater role in the sustainable development of the State."

"Tell them, you are the most beautiful, the best and the strongest, our state will remain the most beautiful, the best and the strongest." These tweeted words from His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, perfectly captures what the day is all about.

Emirati women the world over are making a big statement when it comes to women empowerment.

Today, two-thirds of government employees in the UAE are women; two-thirds are graduates of national universities and a third of the Cabinet are women.

And to quote the late president and founding father of the UAE, Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan: "The woman is half of the society, any country which pursues development should not leave her in poverty or illiteracy. I am on the woman's side; I always say this in order to uphold her right to work and participate in the building process of her country."

Throughout the UAE's history, the leadership of the country has invested heavily in women, and Shaikh Zayed made the cause of women's empowerment a top priority of the UAE Government.

Its forward-thinking and progressive laws and legislation have seen women excel in education, employment, and training opportunities, in turn paving the way for women empowerment.

They have shown great progress in the area of workforce where they have grown to 32.8 per cent from a mere 2.2 per cent in 1975.

This was revealed in 'Emirati Women, Past and Present', the second edition of the book published by Statistics Centre-Abu Dhabi marking Emirati Women's Day.

Emirati women workforce growing stronger

At present, eight women serve in the UAE Cabinet, including Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance, and 22-year-old Shamma bint Sohail Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs.

Nine women hold seats within the Federal National Council (FNC), accounting for nearly one-quarter of the FNC's membership.

According to 'Emirati Women, Past and Present', an overwhelming majority of women (73.3 per cent in 2015) were working in the government, and about 36 per cent were working in public administration, defence and social security.

The figures from the Statistic Center Abu Dhabi (SCAD) also reports that 43 per cent of employed women held a basic university degree, compared with 23.7 per cent for males.

Females also accounted for 89.5 per cent of 4,283 Emirati teachers during the academic year (2014-15).

Women empowerment online

Back in February, the UAE was the third country to partner with Twitter on the worldwide roll-out of the hashtag, #PositionOfStrength.

At that time, Queen Rania of Jordan emphasised the importance of utilising the "power of digital space" when it comes to promoting women empowerment - a tool which Shaikh Mohammed is well versed in.

Taking to Twitter on Saturday, he tweeted: "Emirati women the world over are making a big statement when it comes to women empowerment."

And joining him was Shaikha Manal bint Mohammed, who said: "Women in our country achieve this level of success because of the support of good leadership (which) is an affirmation of the principle of gender balance."

In conclusion, Emirati women, who account for 49.3 per cent of the national population, are today at the cutting edge and forefront of UAE economic, political, and social life. Aided by the government's unwavering commitment to empowering women and providing equal opportunities, the status of women within the UAE has flourished in parallel with the country's growth since the federation was established in 1971.


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