DUBAI // A council that will ensure women are given leading roles in the development of the country has been established by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
Forming the Gender Balance Council showed the Government’s keenness to increase the roles of young Emirati women in the nation’s progress, Sheikh Mohammed said on Tuesday.
“I am happy to be part of this discussion,” he told the Government Summit in Dubai.
“We in the UAE are keen to enable women and put them in the right positions. Therefore I declare the forming of the UAE Gender Balance Council, chaired by Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed [Al Maktoum].”
Sheikha Manal, president of the Dubai Women’s Establishment and chairwoman of yesterday’s session, said: “The UAE has always worked to dismantle barriers that create tension between the genders.
“We have a great opportunity to uncover new paths that we may walk on together.
“We have moved beyond the phase of empowering women. Indeed, we are empowering society through women.
“The impact of a significant female presence in leadership roles has wide-ranging benefits on the economy, on governance and on society at large.”
Sheikha Manal said gender equality was key to the success and prosperity of the country, and a prerequisite for the happiness and security of its citizens.
She said work would start immediately on the council’s framework and strategies.
Farah Al Qaissieh is an example of the leading role Emirati women can play.
On top of her regular job, she is the entrepreneur behind a self-guided tour application, Discover Dhabi, and founder of Stutter UAE, which raises awareness of the speech impediment.
“The fact that there is a large number of women joining the national service voluntarily shows that they are willing to go through tough times for their nation,” said Ms Al Qaissieh.
She said women’s roles in society were changing and that the Government recognised they were integral to the development of the UAE through their increasing education and experience
“They are creating the opportunities,” Ms Al Qaissieh said. “The fact that the Government is providing that opportunity just shows that if there was a traditional element of women being prepped for marriage, it doesn’t mean that they can’t also contribute back through business, or a day job.”
But she said the traditional roles of women should never be discounted.
“Even being a full-time, stay-at-home mum, that also is giving back to the society,” Ms Al Qaissieh said. “She’s building generations. She is still a vital element to the society.”
Toward Gender Balance in Governments discussed issues through three discussion panels on the balance between home and work, overwhelming social and cultural patterns, and the laws aimed at achieving balance between the sexes.
Abeer Amiri said that the image of a male-dominated society was changing.
“It is very important to get women involved in the development of a nation through initiatives like this,” she said. “Women bring a new perspective to the table, which up until recently was male-dominated.”
Ms Amiri, who works for Abu Dhabi Education Council, said women were the first form of education for future generations.
“Having mothers, sisters and aunts involved in the development of a nation also shapes the younger generations’ world views towards valuing women, not only in traditional roles but as peers in the workplace, future leaders in society and a valuable resource in the UAE,” she said.
Sheikha Manal is the wife of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.