Students from Al Salama School in Umm Al Quwain during the National Career Exhibition at Expo Centre Sharjah. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Ever since the founding of the country, Emirati women have played an instrumental role in driving the growth of the UAE and ushering it into a new era of progress and development.

With the constant empowerment they receive every day, Emirati women are making major contributions in society, proving themselves in various positions and fields and delivering the country’s vision for the future.

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The UAE has strongly emerged as a powerful international force championing the cause of women empowerment and equal rights. On August 28, the country celebrates Emirati Women’s Day, under the theme ‘Women on the Course of Zayed’.

The country’s leadership marks the occasion every year to highlight the contributions of Emirati women and their role in the sustainable development of their country.

The date — marking the anniversary of the creation of the UAE’s General Women’s Union, headed by Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, in 1975 — is yet another milestone for the UAE.

The day will coincide with the Centennial of Zayed and the declaration of 2018 as the Year of Zayed, by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Gulf News speaks to Emirati women who have achieved great success in their chosen fields.

 

Hamda Al Suwaidi

Manager — volunteer activities and events — human resources, workforce and volunteers at Expo 2020.

Al Suwaidi is part of the team responsible for attracting, engaging, training and managing the 30,000-plus volunteers required to be the face of Expo 2020 Dubai.

As an Emirati woman, she said she feels proud that her country celebrates the women in its society and empowers them to belong to a diversity of fields in the frontline.

“I would like to mark the day by congratulating all my Emirati sisters on the instrumental role they play in representing the UAE and driving its growth on a domestic and international scale.

"On a personal note, this day reminds us of our responsibility as Emirati women to showcase the UAE’s values of tolerance, hospitality and happiness to the world. As an Emirati employee in Expo 2020 Dubai, it is my mission to represent my country and its values in the best way possible.”

The UAE, she says, has made great progress when it comes to gender equality and empowering women to assume leading roles.

“It has established its place on the world map as a society that values the contribution made by its female citizens, and the literacy rate for women is high. The mother of the nation, Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, had a long-term vision for the women of the UAE. She ensured that the doors of opportunity are always open and that our talents are always harnessed, allowing us to reach the highest levels.”

She believes that In the UAE, opportunities are boundless and the impossible is always possible.

“The leadership in this country instilled in us the spirit of determination, and the willpower to constantly adapt to create a better future. In terms of the UAE’s future road map, I’m most excited for October 20, 2020 — the moment when Expo opens its doors to 180 countries, 25 million visits and 30,000 volunteers. It will be the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I have been dreaming of.”

 

Tala Al Ramahi

Chief Strategy Officer for Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019

Al Ramahi believes the UAE has been spearheading the recognition of women for their abilities, talents and accomplishments, with sports being no exception.

“UAE Women’s Day puts women in the spotlight, especially athletes from Special Olympics. Strong female figures can inspire young women of determination to take part in sports and believe in their ability to achieve their goals rather than see their differences as a restriction,” she said.

Al Ramahi highlighted the UAE has always been on the forefront of female empowerment. “Our Founding Father and Shaikha Fatima fervently believed in the active role of women in our societies, and encourage Emirati women to lead in whatever honourable path they wished to embark on,” she said.

As a result, the status of Emirati women today is a reflection of this vision, added Al Ramahi.

“We have several women in senior positions within government and across several ministries — many of whom we work closely with at Special Olympics UAE … Their leadership continues to be a beacon that lights up the path for future Emirati women who aspire to work for more progress for our gender,” said Al Ramahi.

Looking at the future of UAE women, she pointed out that the World Games will see Emirati women of determination compete on a global stage and showcase their talents to a worldwide audience.

“Whether you are a woman with a disability or not, the UAE has provided a viable path to leadership and empowerment, and Emirati women will continue to carry the torch of aspiration and achievement to the global stage,” said Al Ramahi.

 

Shatha Al Rumaithi

Director of marketing at Yas Mall

Just the same, Al Rumaithi, says the UAE has set a great example for female empowerment.

“Emirati Women’s Day promotes the vital role and contribution of women in shaping the UAE’s economic and social future, encouraging and facilitating a positive, dynamic change in our society,” she said.

As an Emirati, Al Romaithy described herself as “patriotic and passionate about the evolution of the UAE.”

“Over a very short time, the UAE has established itself as a true competitor on the global stage. There are now more female graduates than male, and Emirati women now occupy 27 per cent of the UAE ministerial assembly, streets ahead of the global average of 18.3 per cent,” she explained.

She further pointed out that while nearly two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women, nearly all Emirati women are given access to an international education.

“Learning has always been my main motivation because building my competencies is the most critical aspect of career development. Today, I am proud to say that I have developed a diversified knowledge base in marketing and communications across multiple industries including Real Estate, Sports, Entertainment and Retail,” said Al Romaithy.

She described women in the UAE as “intelligent, dynamic and strong,” adding that she feels empowered every day as an Emirati woman because she is given the freedom to determine her own life.

“We have played an integral role in the development of the country, from positions in the diplomatic corps, armed forces, in national service, police and security, space sciences, technology, engineering and medicine,” added Al Romaithy.

 

Iman Al Omrani 

Vice-president applied intelligence in the innovation and future technology at Expo 2020

Al Omrani is a trailblazer in a male-dominated industry.

The mother of three said Emirati women will continue to be an integral part of this nation. “I am a proud Emirati woman thriving among business professionals, both men and women, and I have been able to do so freely and willingly for more than 18 years.”

She believes every day is Emirati Women’s Day, because women continue to contribute to society and are unstoppable. “However, I celebrate it even more on this day, because it is a testament to us Emirati women. We are leading by example and making an impact,” she said.

On what she is mostly excited about for the country, Al Omrani said she is excited about contributing to all of the visions set by the leadership, “be it to deliver an exceptional World Expo in 2020 or develop a first-rate education system. It is an absolute honour to serve such a calling, and I will continue to look for opportunities where I can play a role in achieving my country’s ambitions.”

The UAE declared August 28 of each year to be commemorated as Emirati Women’s Day in recognition of the role Emirati women have played in the sustainable development of their country. The occasion marks the establishment of the General Women’s Union (GWU) in 1975 and applauds their achievements since the union was founded.

The first celebration of Emirati Women’s Day was held in 2015. This year, the theme is ‘Women on the Course of Zayed’.