UAE women ‘press for progress’

Women today play various crucial roles across different sectors in the UAE, and their contributions have helped to inspire the next generation of leaders, experts have noted.

“There is an increasing global role for women in terms of social, economic, legislative, and community change, and in order to maintain this progress, we must all inspire and nurture the girls of today to become the leading women of tomorrow,” Shaikha Abdulaziz Al Shamsi, manager of Sharjah Girl Guides, told Khaleej Times on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

Similarly, Sheikha Aisha Khalid Al Qassimi, director of Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah, stressed that investment in youth is crucial to progress. “Previous and current generations of women have helped to bring parity to many aspects of life, and we have a responsibility to ensure that we maintain that growth with a generation of women who are innovative, confident leaders. Emirati women have raised their expectations of their place in society and for that we can thank the continuous support of our great leaders.”

Khawla Al Serkal, director general of Sharjah Ladies Club, noted that International Women’s Day is not only a celebration of the giant strides women have made in the past, but it is also a vision of the global steps they will take in the future. “As women play an increasing role in the direction of the worldwide community, it is essential that they are given the tools and support to continue that progress. At Sharjah Ladies Club, we provide a full calendar of events to encourage that, whether it relates to the arts and culture, young entrepreneur workshops or charitable activities. Our overriding aim is to give women the opportunity to enrich their lives and realise their goals.”

Reem BinKaram, director of Nama Women Advancement Establishment, said that the UAE’s achievements are perhaps best typified in the evolution and growing prominence of Emirati women as partners and contributors in the nation-building process. Women, who according to the 2005 census, account for almost half the country’s population, are at the forefront of the country’s workforce, both in the government sector as well as in the private sector.

“Aided by our wise leadership’s commitment to empower women and provide them with equal opportunities, the status of women has flourished in tandem with the country’s growth since 1971,” BinKaram said. “This is evident across the UAE as women today constitute a vital part of the workforce and are significant contributors to government, economy, education and culture. With the way things are in the UAE, we expect that women will continue make significant contributions to business and the economy, and continue to be a shining example of how women, if given the right opportunities, will always lead the way.”

She also highlighted how the UAE is steadily developing a generation of Emirati women, who will help drive the country’s future innovation-led economy. At more than 50 per cent, the representation of Emirati women in STEM programmes at UAE universities already exceeds international averages, she said. Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qassimi, director of FUNN and SICFF, also shed light on the media’s role in advancing women in their careers and status, and recognising the vast talent that is available in the country.

“However, this is not just a victory in its own right, the media is one of the world’s most important and effective ways of influencing communities and decision-makers,” she said. “The result is empowerment and ultimately entitlement for women to be involved in all levels of society, including their right to determine their own direction in contributing to progress. The greater participation of women in the media, the brighter the future for women worldwide.”