Kathmandu: In an emphatic testimony to the empowerment of women in the UAE, a top official of the Government wowed an international audience with her insightful address in Kathmandu on Monday afternoon. Shama Al Daheri, director of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, was speaking at a global conference on the role of women for inclusive development, organised by the Abu Dhabi-based World Muslim Communities Council (WMCC) and the Nepal Muslim Women Welfare Society (NMWWS). Shama said the UAE’s experience in empowering women should serve as a fine example for all those nations who wish to support women and bring about change. She said, “The wise leadership of the UAE has long since dedicated its efforts to empower UAE women. Founder of the UAE, Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, singled out women to play a key role in all walks of life. He once said, ‘Nothing pleases me more than to see UAE women play a prominent role in society and achieve high positions in the future. Nothing should hinder her march to fulfil her dreams’.” Paying rich tributes to the Rulers, she said women today are encouraged to take up the most prominent positions in the government, with the result that two-thirds of not just university graduates but also government employees and council of ministers comprise women. “A few days ago, President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, issued a decree to increase the percentage of women in the Federal National Council,” she added. Shama quoted His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai as saying, “We are not empowering women, but rather empowering the community with women.” She said the UAE’s principle of supporting women has its origins in Islam which addresses both genders in equal measure without any discrimination whatsoever. “In the early days, women bore great responsibility at home and looked after the children when their husbands went out to the sea to make a living. In her capacity as wife, she was also a homemaker and a teacher to her sons and daughters. After the establishment of the UAE in 1971, the position of women was further enhanced. The paradigm shift has made the UAE woman a cornerstone in the country’s development. She is now a role model to be followed, not just in the region but also in other parts of the world,” said Shama.