UAE female leaders have paid homage to Emirati women on a landmark day marking their efforts to "enrich the nation".
The country has today come together to celebrate Emirati Women's Day – and honour the groundbreaking achievements of women across the emirates.
From sporting stars bringing home medals in the Asian Games and ministers making key political decisions, to fighter pilots soaring the skies and even aspiring astronauts planning to make it into space, women are at the forefront of UAE society.
Emirati Women's Day was launched by Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, in 2015 to recognise the crucial role of women in the country.
Shiekha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid, President of the Gender Balance Council and Dubai Women Establishment, said: "Girls represent about 70 per cent of university students. Women represent 56 per cent of graduates in IT, engineering and mathematics in public universities in the UAE. which reflects an interest in the fields of specialisation.
"Women represent 46.6 per cent of the labour force and 66 per cent are employed in government bodies, 30 per cent of which hold leadership roles and 15 per cent are in specialised and academic positions.
"Women have even enhanced their presence in the police force, the military and in the diplomatic and consular corps, where women account for 30 per cent.
"Their calibre, which is recognised globally, is prominent thanks to the values schooled by the late Sheikh Zayed and his respect and appreciation of women and his support to offer them the right education to fulfil social roles since the nation’s foundation in 1971."
The UAE Government comprises nine female ministers, representing nearly a third of the total number of ministers.
According to the international level of competitiveness indicators, the UAE topped the world's index in the “respect to women” and ranked first in 2017 in gender equality in property rights, Sheikha Manal said.
“The late Sheikh Zayed has raised the woman’s status and preserved her dignity and respect as urged by the Islamic faith. He has also helped her participate in the nation’s development for he believes that both men and women should partake in the making of the nation’s success. He who said that ‘Women, like men, have the right to choose the highest positions that befit their abilities and qualifications',” she said.
Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival, said: “The UAE prides itself on its comprehensive experience, clear vision and sustainable goals for women empowerment. This aligns with the national strategy for empowerment of Emirati women for the years 2015-21. The aim is to provide a decent living for women and enable their creativity in all sustainable and developmental fields.
“Our country aims to be among the most advanced countries for women empowerment by providing all girls with high-quality education and 21st-century skills to keep pace with global developments. The UAE aspires to go beyond the scope of ensuring gender equality and enable women to be pivotal members of society and to contribute to the development process in all sectors.”
Mariam Al Hammadi, director of the Big Heart Foundation, an organisation set up to support international humanitarian initiatives, said: "Emirati women are a substantial and influential part of the social fabric. Their achievements, efficiency and capability to make positive change aligns with our wise leadership’s growing attention to support women and enhance their roles. The UAE develops and implements strategies and programmes that aim to empower women economically, socially and professionally, therefore helping them to create a better and brighter future.”
Reem bin Karam, director of Nama Women Advancement Establishment, said: "The UAE is a shining example of how a nation’s prosperity and progress are a direct outcome of the opportunities its women have access to and the roles they play in society. I take this opportunity to thank the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan, whose vision and leadership have laid the foundation for a discrimination-free society where women have always enjoyed equal opportunities to realise their true potential and express themselves freely. The 2018 theme for Emirati Women’s Day, ‘Women on the Course of Zayed’ is the forward momentum we need to build on our successes.”