Dr Anwar Momammad Gargash addresses members of the Dubai ladies Club in Dubai. Image Credit: Abdel-Krim Kallouche/Gulf News

Dubai: Womens associations and establishments should play a bigger role in helping female Federal National Council (FNC) election candidates reach female voters, a top UAE official said on Thursday.

Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs and Chairman of the National Election Committee, said that female candidates have a great chance in winning the elections if supported by women, as he said women represent 48 per cent of the electoral college in the upcoming FNC elections.

Gargash was speaking at the Dubai Ladies Club.

“In 2005, during the first elections, there were 6,700 eligible voters, in 2011 there were 134,000 and this year we have 242,000 voters, of which 120,000 are women,” Gargash said.

He said it is important to have women in the FNC, as every law that affects people’s daily lives passes through the FNC and gets debated, and it is important for the voice of women to be represented.

“One of the most significant achievements of the FNC is female empowerment. When we brought up the issue of women’s empowerment, there were no objections as we were already there, people already knew that women are important members of society,” he said.

Gargash added that it was easy to empower woman because of the wise leadership and vision of the Late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE, and his wife Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, who pushed for women’s empowerment from the start of the union.

Having a few women in national councils and parliaments is not only a UAE issue, but a global issue, he said. “This is because women work and live in a patriarchal society. Look at other parliaments in the region such as Lebanon, Egypt and Kuwait, they have the same issue, also in Latin America and Europe, and however we are seeing more female members in some European countries.”

But he said some still made it to the FNC in the UAE such as Amah Al Kitbi in Abu Dhabi and Shaikha Al Ori in Umm Al Quwain.

Women’s associations and establishments could bring support to female candidates by getting them in touch with a wider female voter base, and have them talk and present their campaign.

“We want all women to vote, those aged 20 and those aged 70, we want the working mother and the homemaker. We want them all to participate in the upcoming elections, as the people in the FNC represent the nation,” he said.

Adding that they want the election to bring people together as one nation to stand behind candidates they see fit to represent them, and not cause rifts between citizens.