The UAE marked the fourth Emirati Women’s Day yesterday, a milestone that highlights the speed and determination with which the UAE has realised its goal of women empowerment and gender equality. These aspirations are, even in many developed countries with far longer histories than the very young UAE, still on the outskirts of actualisation. In comparison, the UAE has moved far ahead and leads the Arab region in the United Nations’ list of the most gender-balanced countries. It also occupies leading international positions in gender equality indices, especially in terms of the rate of female literacy and their participation in secondary and higher education, according to the World Economic Forum Report 2016. The same report states that 77 per cent of Emirati women advance to higher education and represent more than 66 per cent of the UAE’s workforce, with a stronger presence than men in education, health care and banking. These extraordinary achievements have their impetuses in two driving forces: The highly progressive legislative foundations of UAE that support women’s rights in every aspect of development and participation, the indomitable spirit and ambitions of Emirati women who are committed to be equal partners in taking their country forward. Across the spectrum and including forays into traditional male bastions such as space and genetic engineering, Emirati women have set a blistering pace of progress and pluck.
The success stories of Emirati women are today intrinsic to the UAE’s narrative of development and one of the most sterling examples of this reality is the presence of 24 Emirati women in the Federal National Council, the country’s apex legislative body — once again demonstrating UAE’s policy of leading by example.