OPN  International Womens Day
Collective action and shared ownership for driving gender parity is what makes International Women's Day impactful Image Credit: Shutterstock

The success and achievements of our ground-breaking women are celebrated across the country with pride. This is a country that believes women can achieve anything they set their sights on, and has instilled a culture that inspires, encourages and challenges women to fly higher.

I have experienced it first-hand from my early schooling days and across my career journey at Emirates Nature-WWF. The support, equal opportunity and respect that the community has shown to me is priceless, and we are continuing to pay it forward to empower more women and girls to rise to their potential.

The world is currently at a precarious position and under threat from the impacts of climate change and nature loss. These are complex challenges that require collective action from all members of society. Women and girls make up half of the world’s population.

Sustainable Development Goals

With unique experiences and knowledge, our contributions are crucial in ensuring all voices are represented and all needs met. In fact, gender equality and women’s empowerment are essential to achieving all 17 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and building a fairer, better, greener world.

Digitalisation helps overcome some of the barriers to entry that women face. It enables access to knowledge, education, skill development, events, networking opportunities and so on.

When managed correctly, digital platforms enable women to share their voice, shape conversations and advance their personal and professional endeavours. We have seen this up close across our Leaders of Change digital platform.

Leaders of Change is a digital-first programme that mobilises civil society in the UAE to transform the world by actively contribution to national and international climate and sustainability goals.

Through a mix of online and in-person activities, Leaders of Change empowers women – and adults of all backgrounds – to understand environmental issues while also developing both technical and leadership skills that are essential in implementing sustainability.

OPN women leaders
Women: Their energy is endless and contagious – it is inspiring to see these natural changemakers instil the importance of sustainability in their families, guiding our future generations to simultaneously reduce their footprints and do more for people and planet Image Credit: Gulf News

Spend time acting for nature

Members are given a platform and challenged to ideate and co-create solutions for a sustainable tomorrow in collaboration with another.

We also encourage them to spend time acting for nature, in nature with a host of unique (and sometimes exclusive) volunteering opportunities that contribute towards national and international sustainability goals.

This digital platform is a great equaliser because it allows members to participate on their own terms. Women can choose to engage from the comfort of their own homes or join in-person activities. They can navigate our calendar of activities and pick the days and times that fit into their own personal and family schedules.

They can also choose the topic that interests them most – our trainings and activities span from climate action to food & water security; nature & wildlife preservation to green business & market transformation. All opportunities are listed transparently on the website – all members are welcome to participate.

The contribution of our female Leaders of Change has been immeasurable. They have helped restore traditional falaj irrigation channels; built nature trails; collected and analysed litter across the nation’s mangroves, beaches and wadis; collected & analysed valuable data about local flora and fauna; and participated in numerous workshops on key environmental topics.

Passion for nature and environment 

Women’s passion for nature and the environment is evident as they pursue new greener ways to fine-tune their lifestyles, advocate for sustainability across their organisations and homes, and convene their communities to act for nature.

Their energy is endless and contagious – it is inspiring to see these natural changemakers instil the importance of sustainability in their families, guiding our future generations to simultaneously reduce their footprints and do more for people and planet.

We have observed the same can-do attitude amongst UAE youth and girls who are members of our youth programme Connect with Nature.

These confident young women – our future leaders of sustainability – have thrived in the programme, swiftly picking up leadership skills and advocating for nature at local, regional and international sustainability conferences.

There is room for more people to grow in sustainability. Our planet certainly needs more champions and leaders of change.

I encourage you all – women and men, girls and boys – to explore and embrace digital platforms, tools and resources that can help you fulfil your potential.

Laila Mostafa Abdullatif is the Director General of Emirates Nature-WWF