Dubai: Empowerment is the main message behind the celebration of Emirati Women’s day, believes Emirati professor Meera Al Kaabi.
The chair of the cognitive science department and UAE University, who is also a visiting scholar at NYU Abu Dhabi, Al Kaabi has witnessed first-hand a change in how Emirati women are thriving in the educational sector.
“I received a scholarship from UAEU to pursue my graduate studies at NYU in New York City,” she said. “I have a very supportive family who helped me achieve my goals from day one when I decided to travel abroad to pursue my studies. Back then 2009/2010, it was not easy [for women to study abroad], given the tradition and the conservativeness of some Emirati families and tribes. Believe it or not, things have changed dramatically in the last 10 years in the UAE!”
“I encountered a lot of Emirati young ladies at UAEU and NYUAD who approached me to ask about my experience abroad and then they expressed their willingness to take the same path. Social support from family members and friends is very important to enhance the mental health of people, and I was lucky to have such a supportive social network,” she emphasises.
I think it’s important to highlight their achievements, and to listen to the challenges they face which may be different than the ones faced by women around the world given the cultural differences.
Although the world celebrates women on an entirely different date, dedicated to International Women’s Day, Al Kaabi believes that women in the UAE deserve that additional source of encouragement. “Dedicating a special day for Emirati women is a very great initiative. I think it’s important to highlight their achievements, and to listen to the challenges they face which may be different than the ones faced by women around the world given the cultural differences. This is a healthy sign for women empowerment.”
Panel discussions are an important tool that give Emirati women a platform in their fields to represent their integral contributions, Al Kaabi said. “I was participating in a conference yesterday, organised by the University of Sharjah that tackles the topic of women in research and the challenges they faced. I think these kind of discussions are very much needed.”
She urged Emirati women to understand the importance of women empowerment among each other. “Emirati ladies should empower each other, and to be aware of their own abilities and capabilities. I believe that one women’s success is an inspiration for the rest.”