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The trajectory of women’s empowerment in the UAE finds its roots in the visionary ideals of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the nation’s founding father. With an emphasis on education and equal opportunities, regardless of gender, Sheikh Zayed laid the cornerstone for the UAE’s steadfast commitment to advancing women’s rights and status.

Through the annals of UAE’s history, women have undertaken vital roles as caretakers, diligently managing households and familial responsibilities during periods when men embarked on lengthy journeys for maritime pursuits such as diving, fishing, and trade. Their resilience extended to entrepreneurial endeavours, with numerous women crafting intricate palm-based handicrafts that found resonance in local bazaars, securing their livelihoods.

The landscape of gender roles began to shift notably after pivotal oil discoveries in 1958, catalysing a gradual transformation in the roles and contributions of Emirati women within society. Today, these women emerge as trailblazers, fearlessly shattering societal norms to accomplish remarkable feats, including becoming entrepreneurs, ministers, parliamentary leaders, and accomplished fighter pilots.

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Central to this transformative journey is President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who has emerged as an unwavering ally in the pursuit of women’s empowerment. His steadfast dedication to inclusivity and gender equality is translated into a gamut of strategic measures that have elevated the status of women across the UAE.

Through innovative policies and unwavering leadership, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed has paved the way for Emirati women to stride boldly across various domains, magnifying their voices and enabling their integral roles in the nation’s development and progress.

Emirati Women’s Day serves as a poignant reminder of the collective dedication that has transformed the UAE into a dynamic society where women’s contributions are not just acknowledged, but proactively nurtured and celebrated.


UAE’s Role in catalysing Emirati women’s empowerment

The UAE’s drive to empower its women has materialised through a series of substantial measures, fostering an environment wherein they not only thrive but contribute significantly to society:


Recognising education as a fundamental right and a potent tool for women’s empowerment, the UAE government has made substantial investments in promoting quality education for all Emiratis, irrespective of gender. Emirati women have excelled across diverse fields of study, including traditionally male-dominated disciplines like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This educational focus has paved the way for women to pursue diverse careers and surmount traditional barriers.

Workforce Participation

Actively encouraging women’s participation in the workforce, the UAE strives for gender parity across various sectors. Women have ascended to crucial leadership positions in both public and private domains, underscoring the nation’s commitment to dismantling stereotypes and glass ceilings. Initiatives such as the Gender Balance Council and the UAE Gender Balance Guide stand as testament to the country’s commitment to workplace gender equality.

Legal Reforms

The UAE’s journey towards gender equality is further bolstered by significant legal reforms aimed at enhancing women’s rights. Introduction of laws protecting women’s rights in areas such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance marks a seminal moment in the nation’s evolution towards gender parity. These legal transformations underscore the UAE’s unwavering dedication to forging an inclusive and equitable society.

Support for Entrepreneurship

Nurturing an environment conducive to entrepreneurship and innovation, the UAE offers numerous initiatives and programs that extend financial support, training, and mentorship to women entrepreneurs. This approach not only empowers women economically but also contributes to the nation’s economic diversification.

Healthcare and Well-being

Prioritising the health and well-being of its citizens, including women, the UAE ensures access to quality health care and family support services. This commitment to physical and mental well-being reflects the nation’s holistic approach to women’s development.

Cultural Preservation

With immense reverence for Emirati culture and heritage, the UAE takes concerted efforts to preserve and celebrate its cultural richness. Emirati women emerge as vital custodians of traditions, passing them down to future generations. The recognition of women’s contributions to the cultural fabric reinforces their pivotal role in society.

As Emirati Women’s Day dawns, it becomes a moment to reflect upon the profound impact of the UAE’s initiatives in empowering women. It is a time to celebrate the remarkable strides taken by Emirati women, be it in excelling academically or dismantling barriers in the corporate realm.

Emirati Women’s Day serves as a poignant reminder of the collective dedication that has transformed the UAE into a dynamic society where women’s contributions are not just acknowledged, but proactively nurtured and celebrated.

Dr. Hamed Bin Mohamed Khalifa Al Suwaidi is the Founder and President of the Al Suwaidi Foundation, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Abu Dhabi Arts Society (ADAS), and Advisory Council Member of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership