The word ‘impossible’ did not exist in UAE’s dictionary, which was the reason why women occupy 66 percent of the jobs in the public sector, said Her Excellency Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, at the session titled ‘One World = One Community’ at the second edition of the Women’s Economic Empowerment Global Summit (WEEGS), which began today in Sharjah. She was referring to the progress made by Emirati women since the formation of the UAE.
She stressed that empowerment of women within the UAE community was one of the main factors that contributed to the achievement of sustainable development and gender equality – two of the important goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “Strengthening the role of women and their leading position has come through a truly wise government that believes in women’s entitlement to share leadership positions with men and the availability of legislations that allow women to advance to leadership roles,” she said.
In her speech, she highlighted the successful experiences and initiatives of the UAE in the empowerment of women in various fields, beginning from the belief of the nation’s leadership in women’s entitlement to occupy senior positions without any restrictions. This had been passed down by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who had advocated women’s participation in leadership positions in all fields. “The General Women’s Union which was established in 1975 and supported by the Father of the Nation, late Sheikh Zayed, was the first brick laid in the foundation of women’s empowerment in the country,” she added.
The Minister also pointed to the contribution of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, President of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairperson of the Family Development Foundation and President of Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, who strongly supported the empowerment of women and their role in leading sustainable development in the UAE.
Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid noted that 50 percent of the Federal National Council comprised of women. Women occupied 33 percent of the leadership positions; there were nine women ministers in the latest cabinet, which was 30 percent of the Cabinet; and 42 Emirati women diplomats. “The UAE has the youngest woman mnister in the world; the highest percentage of female graduates; and we rank first in Arab world and 26th in the world in the United Nations Development Programme’s 2019 Gender Equality Index.”
She added that the UAE had created an environment that encouraged women with excellent employment opportunities and encouraged entrepreneurship, which had resulted in women initiating
30 percent of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The Minister concluded: “We do not worry about the future in the UAE because we perceive that each challenge can generate a positive opportunity, which can lead to useful achievements in women’s empowerment.”
Being held under the theme ‘Drivers of Change’ the two-day summit features 18 theme-specific sessions that bring together a host of local and global experts, women empowerment advocates and senior industry figures to address development horizons and opportunities available to women across four pillars: gender-responsive procurement, women’s participation in value chains, the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), and women’s access to finance.
Held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairperson of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA), WEEGS is organised by NAMA in collaboration with UN Women. WEEGS is organised with the aim of achieving the United Nation 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by the organisation’s General Assembly in September 2015. The summit reaffirms NAMA’s dedication to bringing together business and opinion leaders and decision makers from public, private and non-profit sectors on one global platform in Sharjah to lead vibrant and action-oriented discussions focused on developing current strategies and exploring potential opportunities to enhance equitable opportunities for women.