Women have made it a long way since the time when we had to willingly lend our ears, never talk, and stand on the sidelines of every political and economic reform. We now have strong female figures leading powerful nations and making prevailing changes that are sure to shape the world in a more egalitarian form. But we still have a long way to go in achieving gender equality in every aspect of our lives. I believe 2017 is going to be that year where we, as a global society, can break gender stereotypes and create an environment where both women and men can reach their fullest potential.

Empowerment of women relates directly to national and global growth of the economy and the society of a particular nation. It is only when all of the human resources of a country are given an equal platform on which to realise their potential that the country can grow as a whole. It is especially important to give women financial independence so that they don’t have to depend solely on the financial resources of their male family members.

We live in an era when women like Hilary Clinton and Angela Merkel are making a prominent stand in the global political sphere, but also, on the other hand, when women own less than one percent of the world’s land resources. This disparity arises mostly due to the prevalent class differences. An often overlooked dimension in achieving gender equality is how class difference reflects on women. Women from poorer backgrounds have an almost quadrupled chance of never getting out of poverty than their male counterparts. This means that most of the egalitarian growth that we have achieved so far is concentrated in the hands of women from a well-off financial background.

We must empower local women, we must empower women from all social classes so as to create a society where our gender identity does not hold us back from achieving our potential. Collaborative efforts of international organisations and the UN subsidiaries is one of the most promising ways in which local women can be empowered.

In retrospect, 2016 has been a dynamic year for women, but 2017 has unfolding promises for both men and women that we can see only when we stand together as an educated and open-minded society.

- The reader is a student based in Dubai.