‘Efforts towards gender equality yielding results in UAE’s development’

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Emirates ambassador to India, Dr Ahmad Al Banna.

By Muslim Mirror Staff

United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been paying “special attention to harness the potential of women” which has yielded results in the development of the country, claimed the Emirates ambassador to India, Dr Ahmad Al Banna.

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During a talk on “Gender Equality, Women Empowerment and their Role in Economic Development of the UAE” Dr Banna said that Emirati women are active in all walks of lives, including administration, representing the nation abroad as ambassadors, government departments, heading the private companies, academic and non-academic portfolios. The event, which held on 8 September, was moderated by Prof Tej Pratap Singh, Department of Peace and conflict, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and Dr. Amit Singh, Senior Assistance Prof. Department of Political Science, University of Delhi, Delhi. Large number of the audience joined the talk.

Looking at the importance of women and their energetic participation, in 2015 Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, chairperson of the General Women’s Union marked 28 August as the Emirati Women’s Day in UAE. The day also honors the creation of UAE’s General Women’s Union in 1975, Dr Banna said. He further informed that this year’s theme of Women’s Day was “Inspiring Reality. Sustainable Future”.

The UAE has achieved significant progress in recent years on the legislative, institutional, and strategic levels for women empowerment. It has established parity of representation in parliament, the Federal National Council. Nine women are serving in the cabinet and all listed companies are required to appoint at least one woman to sit on their boards, he underscored.

The world agencies have also acknowledged the contributions and role of Emirati women. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Global Gender Gap report, the UAE is ranked as a leading country in gender equality in the (Middle East) region.

President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation also known as The Mother of the Nation.

The report, ‘Non-executive Board Careers in the UAE: A Path to Gender Balance,’ which was sponsored by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), reveals that 77 of the 868 board seats from the 115 listed companies on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) and the Dubai
Financial Market (DFM), are now held by women.

According to a research undertaken by Aurora50, a social enterprise working towards gender parity in GCC boardrooms, and Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG), the continued efforts to improve gender diversity in the boardroom have led to more women holding board positions this year to 8.9 %, up from 3.5 % in 2020.

It has closed 65.5 % of its overall gender gap; Over 77 % of Emirati women are enrolled in higher education after secondary school; 70 % of all university graduates in the UAE are women.
61 % of university graduates in scientific fields are women. They have shown interest in STEM. This is a revolutionary change in the pattern of education in the UAE.

The UAE envoy highlighted some of his country’s women who continue to empower others fellow beings. They include: HE Sarah Al-Amiri, UAE’s Minister of State for Advanced Technology/Chairwoman, UAE Space Agency, HE Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and CEO of Expo City Dubai Authority, HE Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, HE Sheikha Mozah Al Maktoum, the UAE’s first female commercial pilot, HE Mariam Bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Ms Nora Al Matrooshi, the UAE’s first female Emirati and Arab astronaut, Ms Nayla Al Khaja, the country’s first female Emirati filmmaker and Ms Zahra Lari, the first Emirati figure skater.

Economic Growth
On Economic front the achievements of women are remarkable. The number of licensed companies owned by women has reached 80,025, with over 32,000 businesswomen managing projects worth more than US$10 billion.

The efforts of the UAE to empower women have not been confined to its national boundaries. It has taken a proactive step at regional and global level. For instance, In June 2017, the UN Human Rights Council unanimously passed a draft resolution put forth by the UAE during the 35th session of the Council in Geneva on girls’ right to receive an education. The UAE provided 10.7 % of its total foreign aid (about US$851 million) in 2019 to protect and empower women and girls. The UAE was a co-founder of the Women Entrepreneurs Fund, established by the World Bank in cooperation with 13 donor countries, and provided approximately US$50 million in support as of 2017.

During the Q&A session, the ambassador answered the questions raised by the audience. Responding to their questions, the ambassador underlined that neither Islam nor Sharia is a hurdle in women’s progress and empowerment. Its media and some people have depicted wrong image of both, Islam and Sharia. Both Islam and Sharia have perfectly compatible to women’s progress for the last 100s of years. However, there has been some resistance from the elderly generation but the young and the upcoming generation is quite comfortable as everything is soothingly progressing in consonance with Arab culture and Islam.

Dr Banna invited the scholars to the Embassy’s library and do research on Islam, Sharia and gender empowerment and urged them to write good papers and articles highlighting the good practices of Islam and counter the nay Sayers. This will further help deepen trust and partnership between India, UAE, Arab world and Islam and Indian civilization.

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