They used statistical but selective words in their attack on women's role without taking into consideration political, social and economic conditions, to make their point and express their dissatisfaction with women's role in the national political arena.

It seems that they deliberately forgot that Dr Amal Al Qubaisi was the first woman to win a parliamentary seat in the UAE's first election. This was a result of the campaign by some who were against the election of women and urged voters not to vote for women. This, among other factors, contributed to women candidates' slim success at the polls.

But the UAE's wise leadership made a conscious political decision by appointing national women to the parliament to encourage the wider participation of women in parliamentary life. Although the elections signalled a landmark in the evolution of political participation two years ago, the anti-progressive movement played a role in strengthening male domination in society.

Regretfully, this attitude has had a strong psychological impact on women, who make up one half of society. It is necessary to mention that women in the UAE have enthusiastically embraced educational opportunities, especially in the field of higher education where female students outshone their male counterparts.

Yet many men have not proven themselves capable of playing their role. There are many former FNC members who have not spoken a single word during FNC sessions; their presence was hardly felt. Despite all attempts to sideline women and prevent them from entering political life, they have proved they have the ability to face the storm and defend their rights.

For example, the Kuwaiti women's experiment provides evidence of their capability to engage in public life, despite attempts by Islamic political groups to prevent them from doing so. In the UAE, the decision by the authorities to engage and elect women to the parliament means that political power keeps pace with political changes in the world.

This is simply because it is not logical to shut out half of society.

Female members, whether in the FNC or the Cabinet and other positions, have proven that women are not only on an equal footing with their male counterparts when it comes to carrying out their duties, but can also excel and outshine them despite all social and economic challenges.

Throughout history, there have been many examples of women rulers who have met the demands of their people.

For instance, Queen Balqees of the ancient kingdom of Sheba was a role model of a strong woman who succeeded in fulfilling the aspirations of her people.

In modern history there are many women who have held high-profile positions and proven themselves capable of competing and excelling in the area of political, economic and social management in both the developed and the developing worlds.

Undoubtedly, the woman is the most respectable in any role she plays, be it that of a mother, sister, daughter or wife.

The call by the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to Muslims to learn a portion of their religion from his wife Aisha Bint Abu Bakr provides evidence of the important role played by women in all aspects of life.

However, old myths about women's status as being "inferior" have appeared once again. Women are portrayed as second-class citizens with no brains or jobs.

Maybe women have been exploited by the media in which they are portrayed as art masterpieces that must be protected.

The attempts by some social forces to block the wheel of progress are nothing but a last attempt to create social backwardness.

Yet scientific findings have proven that there is no difference between men and women with regard to intelligence, but social conditions tend to determine who is the best.

Men and women are equal as human beings, and hence the door is open to those who want to take up challenges regardless of their gender. But what is more important is the social awareness that is supposed to play a key role in setting the right priorities.

Throughout history there have been men who have destroyed the world, while there were many women who saved the world.

As I was listening to the speech by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, during the opening of the Federal National Council's fourth regular session of the 14th legislative chapter, a flurry of thoughts rushed through my mind.

Shaikh Mohammad emphasised the importance of women's role in political life, recalling the outstanding achievements made by Emirati women in political, social and economic areas.

This stands as testimony to women's endeavours. The woman has always proven herself as a role model of endless giving and rich contributions to the service of human kind.


Dr Mohammad Abdullah Al Mutawa is a professor of Sociology at UAE University, Al Ain.