"The conclusion of our day was honouring the Mother of the UAE, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, as the most important figure supporting gender balance in the country," Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said on Thursday.
"Sheikha Fatima's journey in empowering Emirati women represents an exceptional model in this field at the regional and global levels."
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, received the Gender Balance Medal on behalf of Sheikha Fatima.
Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, and her department was also honoured for its contributions to gender progression.
Sheikh Mohammed spoke following a meeting of the Cabinet, also known as the Council of Ministers.
Sheikha Fatima, the wife of the UAE's Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, has for half a century worked on causes that are close to the hearts of the UAE's people.
Speaking in a rare, exclusive interview with The National in December 2021, as the nation marked 50 years since its founding, Sheikha Fatima reflected on a country that seized the future while preserving its culture, religion and heritage.
“I feel so proud as I witness what the daughters of the Emirates, my daughters, are achieving,” she said.
“When I look back at the past 50 years, I see a lot of things that fill me with pride.
“How can I not feel proud to witness all the great achievements and transformations that the UAE has achieved in a relatively short time?
“How can I not feel proud and honoured to have been next to the late Founder Sheikh Zayed, may God rest his soul, in all that he did to turn his dream into reality?"
Sheikha Fatima is the Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and Chairwoman of the General Women's Union.
But it was her early work, which has continued for decades since, that aided the progression of Emirati women, including arranging literacy classes for women, especially divorcees and widows.
“We started from scratch and we faced many obstacles due to the social conditions that prevailed at the time," Sheikha Fatima said in December.
“We had to deal with them with caution and wisdom to avoid a clash with the traditions and customs of society – an approach set by Sheikh Zayed that we still adhere to."
Since then, such work has advanced in its scope and sophistication.
Millions of dollars have been donated to social causes across the Arab world and further afield that are tied to women and other social issues.
There are hospitals, schools and charities named in her honour in countries including Morocco, Pakistan and Egypt.
Her work continues the legacy of Sheikh Zayed, she said.
“It was his dream to turn the vast desert into modern cities that people visit from all over the world and find stability, comfort, happiness, care, security, safety and tolerance. I feel proud and honoured for being his partner in making this dream come true," Sheikha Fatima said.