Sharjah Civil Defence is training a team of 15 brave UAE nationals to join Sharjah fire station by the end of 2018 as the UAE’s first female firefighters.
Growing up, Nora Othman Al Ghafli, always dreamed of becoming a firefighter.
When she saw the job posting for women firefighters by the Ministry of Interior in September 2017, she got thrilled that her dream may actually come true. She told her family that Sharjah Civil Defence was looking to form a women’s firefighting unit and they gave her their blessings.
“The women in UAE have always been supported by our late father His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Our leadership encourages women to be present in all spheres of life, alongside men” the UAE national said.
More than 150 women applied for the job but only 15 were selected, said Colonel Sami Khamis Al Naqbi, Director-General of Sharjah Civil Defence. The women are currently undergoing a six-month basic training that is scheduled to end this summer. The training involves sports activities, shooting, learning the rules and laws of civil defence. It will be followed by another three months of training on job-related issues before the women can enter service. During a fire, the women are required to save the lives of both men and women.
“We have women working in the administration team of Sharjah Civil Defence. But we wanted to take up a new challenge as His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, always says, what is life without risks and challenges. We know that the ladies in UAE love to take up new challenges. They love to be in the top positions, alongside men,” he added.
Maitha Ali Al Katbi, a member of the women’s firefighting unit, was inspired by her husband, who’s also a firefighter, to join the team.
“My husband has been very supportive. I also have a young daughter but it’s never been difficult to juggle between my work and family life,” the UAE national said.
“UAE women are in every field including space… they are flying planes. Now they have entered the field of firefighting to save lives and help people in crisis. This kind of job used to be done by men earlier but we are no less than men,” she added.
Her colleague Wegdan Ali Almazmi said the society must accept women in these non-traditional roles. “I want to show the Arab countries and the rest of the world what we Emirati women are capable of doing. I want to break all gender stereotypes. I want to be a UAE pioneer just like the country’s first female pilot Mariam Al Mansouri,” she added.
Almazmi had studied science in school, but when she learned about the firefighting opportunity, she eagerly applied. Now there’s no looking back.
“My father wanted me to become a doctor and save people’s lives. As a firefighter, I am doing the same. He is still very proud of me.”