In 50 years we achieved what takes centuries, says Sheikha Fatima

Sheikha Shamma read the Mother of the Nation's speech at Global Summit of Women in Abu Dhabi

Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan addresses the Global Summit of Women in Abu Dhabi. Pawan Singh / The National
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Sheikha Fatima, Mother of the Nation, has praised the contribution of Emirati women and the progress of the UAE, which she says was achieved in record time.

In a speech delivered on her behalf by Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan at the Global Summit of Women held in Abu Dhabi, Sheikha Fatima praised UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who worked for women's empowerment from the beginning.

“From inception, there was a firm conviction of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may God rest his soul in peace, in the role of women in society,” read Sheikha Shamma, executive director of the UAE Independent Climate Change Accelerators.

“He was my companion and teacher. I accompanied him on his great journey, during which he accomplished in one generation what takes other nations … several generations. In 50 years, we achieved what takes centuries.”

Sheikha Fatima said the advancement of women continues in the UAE under the leadership of President Sheikh Mohamed and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

“They worked on women's education, established schools and universities, and worked to empower women in various fields and sectors,” she said.

“Women in the UAE now occupy more than half of the workforce in the government sector, more than half in all stages of education, and they make up more than a third of the cabinet. Half of the members of the Federal National Council are women.”

They are judges, astronauts, ambassadors, doctors, engineers, pilots and decision-makers in security and peace, she said.

However, more needs to be done to bring about peace and support women globally.

Delegates at the Global Summit of Women held in Abu Dhabi. Pawan Singh / The National

“The main topics of this Global Summit of Women have been chosen very carefully because they are the major issues that concern humanity at this historical moment,” she said.

Peacekeeping between countries and social integration are important issues, she said.

“This is the real challenge facing human societies in all regions,” she said.

“With the spread of social media, societies have become vulnerable to the transmission of racism, sectarianism, social violence movements, protests, etc.

“Therefore, the world today needs new ideas. Work is being done to strengthen the fabric of societies and support networks of social relations in a way that achieves stability and happiness for humanity.

“Perhaps what you will see during your visit to the Emirates these days will be a ray of hope for humanity, as people of more than 200 nationalities live and coexist here.”

'Women's empowerment is the only way to ensure peace'

India's President Droupadi Murmu, who spoke in a recorded message at the event, said she believed that women's empowerment was the only way to ensure peace, social inclusion and prosperity in the world.

She said empowering women was one of the main focus areas of her presidency.

“I wished to attend the summit in person, but I was not able to travel to the UAE due to my other commitments,” she said.

“As the President of India, it is an honour for me to share with this gathering that India has always been at the forefront of promoting gender respect and democracy in society.

“Our history is full of examples of women taking leadership roles. In fact, the Indian scriptures have laid great stress on respect for women.

India's President Droupadi Murmu, spoke about women's rights in a recorded message. Pawan Singh / The National

“In modern times, India was the first among major democracies in the world to grant universal adult franchise [the right to vote] to all its citizens, irrespective of their gender, race, or religion.

“In India, women have occupied all prominent positions, including the president, prime minister and speaker of parliament. In today’s India, women are acquiring the centre-stage of every discourse and decision-making to build a future-ready society.”

This year is very important for India and the UAE, as they host the G20 and Cop28.

“I am very happy that both countries are working together to make these global events successful,” Ms Murmu said.

“I am sure that Cop28 will take into account the critical role of women in environmental issues, especially in sustainable development. During our G20 presidency, we are working on the theme of One Earth, One Family, One Future.”

The Global Summit of Women 2023, a two-day event, is being held under the patronage of Sheikha Fatima, who is also the chairwoman of the General Women's Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation.

It features stateswomen, faith leaders, entrepreneurs, social activists, cultural personalities, media celebrities, and scholars from more than 100 countries.

Speakers and participants are addressing struggles faced by women today and seeking ways to build bridges of peace, inclusion, and prosperity between communities.

Powerful Emirati women - in pictures

Updated: February 21, 2023, 3:16 PM