SHARJAH, --H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of H.H. the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA), has called for the establishment of a UAE Ministry for Women, while addressing a special closed session organised exclusively for women on the first day of the second edition of 'Investing in the Future' (IIFMENA) conference.

This closed session titled 'Future of Women in the UAE' constituted an important component of the first day's proceedings, and was organised by NAMA and the UAE General Women's Union.

Sheikha Jawaher's appeal was set in the context of adding to the UAE's illustrious history and significant achievements in enabling women's empowerment. Referring to women as pillars of advancement in all societies, she emphasised that the wisdom and vision of emancipating and empowering women was reflected in the UAE's earliest leadership starting from the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE.

"All of us today are here in the UAE, a country that has set numerous milestones by introducing numerous new ministries to cope with the growing demands of progress. As women are crucial drivers of progress, I believe the time is right to be at the forefront of women's ambitions by introducing a ministry for women's affairs," she said during her keynote address.

"A ministry for women's affairs will help ensure the sustainability of the empowerment of women. It will advance their roles and invest their capabilities in serving their society and nation, helping them to face any changes that might arise in the future," Sheikha Jawaher added.

Her address was followed by a panel discussion featuring speakers, Ohoud Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness; Mody Al Shamsi, Director and General Manager of the Family Development Centre, and was moderated by Salha Obeid Ghabesh, Director-General of the Cultural and Media Office at the Supreme Council for Family Affairs.

Emphasising the need to understand how women have been treated in the past to determine their present and future, Al Roumi said, UAE's concerted efforts in educating and empowering their women have reaped glorious fruits for the nation, ensured progress and prosperity. Today, 54% of government bodies are occupied by women, 70% of graduates are women, and the revenue generated by them exceeds AED 50 billion.

"UAE's vision for 2021, which will coincide with its 50th anniversary, is to become one of the greatest nations in the world. To be able to achieve this goal, we need to launch new strategies and legislations at the federal level to be able to retain and further propel our achievements in the field of women's advancement, because there can be no development and no progress if our women are left behind," she added.

Citing how the UAE embraced the changing concept of gender, walking on the path of women's empowerment when the rest of the Arab world remained sceptical or rejected it, Mody Al Shamsi said, "The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Nahyan, had been an ardent champion of the women's emancipation and development and knew it had a direct correlation with the nation's overall progress. Emulating his vision over the years, we have seen our women thriving and flourishing and contributing fully to our society.

"Act 8 in 1980 regarding the work relationships of women, our Maternity Law in allowing women more freedom to balance their personal and professional lives, UAE's participation in various international women's unions and other organisations, the Gender Equality Council in the UAE, and a different building for women's assures in Sharjah's Family Courts, are just a few example of the opportunities our country gives our women to realise our fullest potential. It is due to our forefathers' vision that I have become worthy enough to stand here today and address you all," she added.

Among other important participants at the session, Malala Yousafzai, a women's rights activist and the world's youngest Nobel laureate; Rula Bibi Gul Ghani, the First Lady of Afghanistan and wife of Afghani President Dr. Mohammed Ashraf Ghani; and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women were in attendance.

Source: Emirates News Agency