The United Arab Emirates has made immense strides in championing the cause of women’s empowerment and economic inclusion. Today, as we mark Emirati Women’s Day, we celebrate not just the remarkable women of the United Arab Emirates, but also a nation that stands as a testament to the incredible feats that can be achieved with vision, dedication, and relentless pursuit of progress.
This progress is palpable across sectors, indicative of a holistic approach to gender equality. In politics and public life, Emirati women now represent 50% of the Federal National Council, underscoring the nation’s commitment to political inclusion. Emirati women are front and centre of COP28, aligned with the UAE’s commitment to a sustainable future which has seen the rise of women leaders in environmental sectors, in which we already see women leading the Environment Agency and many other leading conservation and sustainability initiatives to protect endangered species, marine ecosystems, and promote sustainable agriculture in the region.
The UAE has made significant investments in renewable energy, a prime example being Masdar City in Abu Dhab, which hosts the Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy (WiSER) platform with which AIWF is most proud to have partnered since the signing of an MoU on International Women’s Day in 2021 and with which AIWF recently hosted a major conference initiative in London, ‘On the Road to COP28: Women-Led Innovation in Climate, Sustainability & STEM’. Women in leadership roles within Masdar and other renewable energy entities are making critical decisions that steer the nation’s transition to greener energy, participating in research, policy-making, and international cooperation to ensure the UAE’s renewable energy sector remains cutting-edge. Significantly, given the arid climate of the UAE, water conservation is of utmost importance and Emirati women, in various capacities, are involved in research, policy-making, and community outreach programs to ensure the sustainable use of water resources.
Furthermore, Emirati women have been visibly and actively representing the UAE in various international forums related to sustainability, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), their contributions ensuring that the UAE’s sustainability efforts align with global best practices and that the nation plays an active role in global environmental conservation. Emirati women, given their roles in sectors like renewable energy and water conservation, have been instrumental in both conceptualising and presenting these innovative solutions to environmental and critical sustainability and social challenges.
In other STEM fields, the UAE’s space program has seen an Emirati woman become the first Arab woman astronaut, and the healthcare sector in the UAE has witnessed an increased presence of Emirati women, as has the legal profession, where Emirati women have been breaking the glass ceiling and we have the first female federal judge in the UAE. In business, Emirati women entrepreneurs are breaking barriers and setting benchmarks in various sectors, from tech to traditional businesses, making a vast and monumental contribution to the UAE’s economy, diversification efforts, and the global business landscape. Women in the UAE are now a part of elite military squads, serving the nation and showcasing their prowess in fields once reserved for men. Emirati women are also making their mark in various sports, from horse riding to jiu-jitsu, and they are at the forefront of the cultural renaissance in the UAE, gaining international recognition for their unique expressions of Emirati culture and identity.
Emirati women have showcased exemplary performance in higher education, often surpassing their male counterparts in STEM, law and other disciplines, laying the foundation for a brighter, more inclusive future for all. The world of research and academia in the UAE has also benefited greatly from the contributions of Emirati women. Universities have female Emirati deans, professors, and researchers who are contributing to global knowledge and fostering the next generation of leaders. Recognising the importance of sustainability education, Emirati women in academia and research are ensuring that the next generation is equipped with the knowledge and skills to address environmental challenges. Universities in the UAE have incorporated sustainability courses, many of which are headed by female professors and researchers.
Additionally, the UAE has emphasised training and empowering Emirati women as pilots, with entities like Etihad and Emirates Airlines showcasing their female Emirati pilots on global routes, which not only highlights the progress of Emirati women but also breaks stereotypes on a global scale. And many Emirati women have established charitable foundations and social enterprises, aiming at various causes from education, healthcare, to women’s empowerment both within the UAE and internationally.
Haifa Al Kaylani, President & Founder of the Arab International Women’s Forum, has said: “The active involvement of Emirati women in sustainability ensures that the UAE’s environmental agenda is both comprehensive and progressive. Their increasing presence in platforms like COP28 solidifies the UAE’s commitment to a sustainable future on a global scale. The presence of women in pioneering roles in STEM, sustainability and many other sectors and spheres is not just inspirational for young girls in the region but sends a global message about breaking boundaries. On this special day, we celebrate the indomitable spirit, resilience, and achievements of Emirati women and commend the visionary leadership of the UAE. The path that the UAE has embarked upon is not just commendable but serves as an example for many countries around the world; it is proof that when women are given equal opportunities and the right platforms, they excel and elevate the entire nation.”
The AIWF Executive Committee, Board, Partners and Members wish all our Emirati members a very happy Emirati Women’s Day 2023.
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