The upcoming Emirati Women’s Day on August 28 provides us with an opportunity to celebrate female nationals at all levels. In its first year, the focus will be on women serving in the Armed Forces, national service, police and security as declared by the mother of the nation, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, in May.
Those women deserve to be celebrated. They have chosen an unconventional field, which has been traditionally associated with maleness and masculinity. The same applies to women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), women in media and women in business.
Any Emirati woman in an unconventional field is inspirational. Each one provides a role model for the younger generation of Emiratis. All of them open doors for more women to join the workplace and effectively participate in building this young nation.
In a recent panel ahead of Emirati Women’s Day, a group of Emirati women who hold different positions in Etihad Airways such as engineers, pilots, technicians, cabin crews and airport directors discussed the challenges they go through to alter the belief that women do not belong in the world of aviation. There is always the issue of convincing family members and other relatives of the meaningful contribution women can have in such an unconventional field as well as their male counterparts.
While a focus should be put on having more women in higher positions, women in lower level positions also deserve our backing and appreciation. We should support them on the way to reach higher positions, by introducing stronger maternity leave policy to help them strike a balance between career and family. No woman should quit her job because she is unable to reconcile her work and family responsibilities.
August 28 also marks the establishment of the General Women’s Union, which was introduced in 1975 to strengthen the role of women in society and public life. Today, it’s good to see Emirati women succeeding in fields that no one could have imagined a few decades ago. Their progress is progress for the whole nation.