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Celebrating the spirit of Emirati women

Women in the UAE celebrate Emirati Women’s Day, along with the country’s progression

Abu Dhabi/Dubai: The achievements and milestones reached by Emirati women are integral to the success story of the UAE and its enviable place on the global platform.

Fired by their passion for nation-building and pursuing ambitions and goals that open new horizons for women empowerment, Emirati women have blazed many a trail.

To mark their exemplary spirit, courage and dynamism, Her Highness Shaikh 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, announced August 28 as Emirati Women’s Day that celebrates the birth of the General Women’s Union on August 28, 1975.

The first celebration of Emirati Women’s Day was held in 2015. This year, the theme is ‘Women are partners in giving.’

Shaikha Fatima said the theme was adopted to reflect women’s role in the community welfare and in the success of the ‘Year of Giving’ initiative, launched by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

She added that the announcement of Shaikh Khalifa to mark 2017 as the Year of Giving, was an extension to the benevolent deeds of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, whose vision and approach were founded on giving to his people and to the humanity.

“The concept of giving is deep-rooted in the Emirati culture and the legacy of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan will always form the basis for the UAE’s message of peace and giving,” she said.

Shaikha Fatima noted that the new theme highlights social responsibility for all segments of the society, including women, who are key partners in the country’s drive for comprehensive development.

“There has been continuous attention to and advancement in the role of women, under the support of Shaikh Khalifa, especially in the recent years, where women’s issues across all areas and sectors have become a top priority for developmental policies,” she added.

Gulf News spoke to Emirati women on their journey of empowerment.

Denia Al Hashar, Customer Experience Manager, HSBC:

“The sky is not the limit, it is merely the view,” said Al Hashar, speaking of the journey to newer horizons for Emirati women. “What I see every day when I go through the paper or my personal Instagram page is what I like to call little victories. Emirati women in the capacity of athletes, ministers, volunteers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, creatives, and movie directors. Every one of them setting new standards for the norm, new milestones for those that will follow.”

On the factors that make her a proud Emirati woman, she said: “There are too many things [that make me proud to be an Emirati woman]. If I had to pick one, it would probably be our Rulers’ support of Emirati women in the community. They have created, and continue to create, opportunities for Emirati women to thrive on a regional and global scale. In the past few years alone, we have seen several women representing the country in some of the most prestigious positions such as Ohood Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness, in the UAE.”

Speaking on UAE’s progression and opportunities, she said: “I feel as though education and Emiratisation go hand in hand. ‘There is no power stronger than that of a hope for a better life’, said Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Education has opened many doors for Emarati women and has allowed them to develop and express ideas, thoughts, acquire practical skills to apply in the workplace and discover strengths they already possessed. That alone adds so much value to any human being’s existence. Women are also given them the opportunity to apply all that they have learnt into the business world whether it be by setting a standard quota for companies to hire Emiratis or by supporting their ‘from home’ business models.”

The term ‘empowerment’, she said “comes down to a very basic principle. Nature. Women are naturally created for a purpose just as men are, empowerment to me does not translate to equality, that is a different subject. Empowerment is allowing me to be all that I was created to be. As Emirati women of this new generation, we have aspirations to achieve in the business world but we also want to raise the next generation of thinkers. This balance is something that many women around the world struggle with; however, support in this area, I believe, will provide many immediate and long term benefits to the UAE. Emirati women have proven they have excellent work ethic; case in point, State Minister of Public Education Jamela Al Muhairi, who was praised by Shaikh Mohammad for returning to work 21 days after giving birth in order to give an important presentation to him.”

Unique attributes of Emirati woman:

  1. Contribution to the country by becoming role models.

  2. Every single one of us is an ambassador of the UAE everywhere we go and to everyone we meet.

  3. Being the best version of ourselves and representing our country in that light.

  4. Persistence, empathy, courage, and creativity.

Role models:

Women around the world who are movers and shakers, our mothers.

Naema Al Shehhi, senior executive corporate communications projects, du:

For Al Shehi, “true woman empowerment — in context of the fact that women also have to belong, be a part of and create a cohesive society — is life and work balance and support for working women from their families.”

She said she feels proud to be an Emirati woman because “I can contribute to the country’s development in two aspects — raising the future generation of the UAE, and working to contribute to diversifying the UAE’s economy.”

The most important doors that have opened for her as the UAE progressed, she said, include “the quality of education and medical services, supporting innovation, and supporting entrepreneurship.”

The future she believes will bring new milestones for the Emirati woman in space exploration. “The journey has already started with teenage Alia Al Mansouri, who was chosen by Nasa for her project to be sent to the international space station.”

Unique attributes of Emirati woman:

  1. Dedication to giving back to the country

  2. Contribution to the country’s economy

  3. Innovative attitude

Role models:

Entrepreneur Hend Al Hashemi, Dr Hawaa Al Mansouri, and artist Shaikha Hoor Al Qasimi.

Nadia Ahmad Ahli, Lead Engineer — Process Development, Technology Development & Transfer, Emirates Global Aluminium

“I see the future of the UAE also led by women who will introduce more technology and less manual labour. They will be more educated and more experienced — as there will come a time when woman will be a part of international societies in fields like sustainable energy, and will present the UAE on international platforms around the world,” said Ahli.

When it comes to milestones, she said: “I think there will more women working in aerospace, more female pilots and more engineers working in the field of sustainable energy.”

What makes her a proud Emirati is that she is working in one of the biggest aluminium companies in the world, and representing her country. “It is a male-dominated field, and I face some challenges, but I enjoy meeting different people from various nationalities in this field, especially when I represent my country at international conferences.

“On a personal level, I am a proud Emirati woman because I have a level of freedom where I can explore my opinions and interests. I have the freedom to pursue my education and study anything that interests me. I can make investments, raise my own voice, and have my print on society. An Emirati woman is equal to an Emirati man in several areas — she can have her own strategy to work, her own style and her own charisma.”

Unique attributes of Emirati woman:

  1. Ability to multi-task, to be a manager and at the same time a leader.

  2. Manage tasks within a deadline, while leading a group of people.

  3. A great decision maker, who knows how to create a friendly environment for her co-workers.

  4. Knows how to overcome challenges, and is keen to learn more.

Role models:

Reem Ebrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State and Managing Director of the Dubai World Expo 2020.

Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance

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