Speakers during the session at Women's Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The culture of political participation among Emirati women was part of the discussions at a session titled ‘Future of Women in Parliament’ at the Women’s Pavilion in Expo 2020 Dubai, organised by the UAE Gender Balance Council.

Speakers at the session included members of the Federal National Council Naema Al Mansouri and Afra’a bin Hindi. The session was moderated by Shamsa Saleh, secretary-general of the UAE Gender Balance Council.

The session discussed how to develop political awareness and enhance a culture of participation in parliamentary work, ensuring that it is a national responsibility that falls on all members of society and institutions in the UAE.

Embracing the future

Saleh began the session by praising the progress that Emirati women are continuously achieving across indexes of gender equality. The UAE was recently ranked first in the region and 24th globally in the Women, Peace and Security Index 2021.

She said: “The index, published by Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security as well as the Peace Research Institute Oslo Centre on Gender, Peace and Security, relies in its analysis on several aspects of inclusion, which incorporates education, parliamentary representation, financial inclusion, employment, and mobile phone use.”

Saleh added: “The UAE is among 16 countries where women representation in parliament increased by 10 per cent, which is evidence to the vision of the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The country has achieved leadership in global indicators through the decree issued by His Highness in 2019 to increase the representation of Emirati women in the Federal National Council to 50 per cent.”

Political awareness

Al Mansouri meanwhile stressed the importance of raising political awareness and enhancing participation in parliamentary work for all members of society, especially women, whether through exercising their right to vote or to run for the Federal National Council elections.

She said: “The support and care of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak for Emirati women in various fields represents the belief of the wise leadership in the capabilities of Emirati women, especially in parliamentary work, and has enabled the country to become a model in empowering society by advocating inclusion of women in the UAE’s sustainable development journey.”

Cadre preparation

Afra’a bin Hindi said: “Promoting women’s participation in parliamentary work should include plans that equip national cadres with the right skills to work in the Federal National Council. The UAE established a global model of confidence in women capabilities. The decision to increase their participation to 50 per cent represents unprecedented support for women in parliamentary work, as well as promotes gender balance and equal opportunities in decision-making positions.”

National achievements

According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the UAE ranked first in number of women seats in parliament across the Arab region. The country ranks third among 192 countries worldwide in terms of the highest number of women representation in parliament in 2021. The UAE also ranked first in women representation in leadership positions, according to the Council on Foreign Relations report for 2021. The report indicates that Emirati women occupy 27 per cent of ministerial positions, 50 per cent in senior legislative positions, and 49 per cent in political parity.