Just a month ago, Fatima Hamad al Mazrouei gave birth to her fourth child, a boy. That did not, however, stop her participating in last month's sessions of the FNC.
Dr al Mazrouei, who was appointed to the 40-seat council in 2007, is easily one of its most active members, in terms of her contribution to both debates and committees. But when not engaged with FNC work, the former Arabic-language professor devotes her time to her children. "Organisation is very important in order to take care of my children and work," she said. "I always plan for the house needs and make sure that I don't only teach my children but also play with them.
"I have a very large children's library and toy collection, which helps their cognitive growth and education as well as entertaining them." Her book collection includes stories that handle topics ranging from xenophobia to fear of the dark, jealousy and even losing teeth. "If the child's teeth are falling [out] and he's worried, I read him a story about that to ease his fear," she said. "Dealing with children gently and with an open heart, as well as understanding their viewpoint, helps them overcome a lot of problems they normally face at their age." Dr al Mazrouei uses computer programs to increase her children's reading, mathematical and perceptual abilities.
The Abu Dhabi representative is proud of her role in the FNC. "I think I've contributed, as everyone acknowledges," she said. She believes the council has been most effective when discussing rising commodity prices, health and education. Dr al Mazrouei said she was content with the performance of her female colleagues in the council in what has been the UAE's first experience of women in such roles.
"Women[in government] around the world are usually active in the legislative aspects more than monitoring, but here women participate in both aspects." The FNC's monitoring powers take the form of submitting questions to officials and discussions about the policies of various federal bodies. The council's resolutions, however, are not binding on the Government. Dr al Mazrouei said she would like the council to be given more work. Currently, it generally meets between one and three times a month. "If it were left to me, I would be keen to have more sessions," she said. "We've noticed in the last session that because the ministers were not ready or reports were not done, some sessions were postponed.
"Earlier this year, a scheduled council session was postponed three times. "I would make the sessions weekly, so work can be intensive." firstname.lastname@example.org