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Minister highlights government's efforts to empower Emirati women

posted on 08/03/2007: 876 views

New York - Minister of Social Affairs, Mariam Mohammed Khalfan Al Roumi, has said that having Emirati women in leadership positions and their active participation in decision making was nothing new in the UAE, adding that it was a continuation of the march being led by Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, who continues to lead since 1975 a number of national institutions which aim at solving women's issues, including the empowerment of the Emirati women.

Al Roumi was contributing to an informal debate of the General Assembly on the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

"Since the foundation of the UAE, the leadership has realized, under the guidance and directives of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the Union and the inspirer of the comprehensive National Development Strategy that women are essential and equal partners to men in the process of development.

Therefore empowering women and preparing them in the best ways possible are considered the most important requirements for the success of the development strategy and the fulfilment of its over all objectives," she said.

She pointed out that with support from public and private institutions, this strategy succeeded in empowering women in all areas, achieving big unprecedented accomplishments for them in a short period of time, not exceeding thirty five years. "The most recent of these accomplishments is the representation of women in the legislative and executive authorities in the government where two women now occupy two seats in the cabinet, the ministry of economy and the ministry of social affairs. And for the first time, women have the opportunity to vote and run for offices in the 40- seat Federal National Counsel which has both a legislative and supervisory role, where they gained nine seats last February," she said.

"It is a source of pride for us to mention that the presence of Emirati women in positions of leadership and decision making is not a recent development in our country, but a continuation of the march towards the advancement of women, lead by H.H Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, wife of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. She has been presiding over a number of national effective institutions concerned with women's and family issues, which contribute effectively to the advancement of women in all areas, Such as the General Women Union established in 1975, the Higher Council for Childhood and Motherhood established in 2003, and the Family Development Institution, established in 2006, in addition to her honorary presidency of the Red Crescent and her great contributions to the establishment of the Women Refugees Fund and the special Fund for Refugee Mothers," she added.

She explained that the UAE, since its establishment, had promulgated laws and regulations that ensure the constitutional rights of women and gender equality such as equal rights and responsibilities the right to entitlement, work, promotion, social security, business ownership, and finance management, equal wages, the right to free education, health care and social services. "Certain laws granted women privileges according to their roles as mothers and care-takers such as the law of civil service which grants maternity leaves and other laws that provide working mothers with special facilities such as day care centres and nurseries at the work place," she explained.

She said the UAE leadership strongly believe that the full empowerment of women and gender equality can not be achieved without economic empowerment. Related official institutions, civil societies and the private sector worked together to create the right environment to qualify women to enter the labour market, its public and private sectors, adding that specialized local educational institutes were established according to international standards to educate and train women with the necessary skills to meet the requirements of the labour market, while ensuring an educational and labour environment which agree with their social and economic circumstances.

The minister said Emirati women had been participating effectively on the labour market where they account for 22.4 % of the total work force in the country and representing 66% of the work force in the government sector of which 30% are occupying leadership and decision-making positions.

"Women in the UAE enjoy equal opportunities, like men, for work and investment, financial and logistic facilities to conduct their own businesses and private projects in all fields. More than ten thousands business women in the country own and run their own businesses. The capital managed by women amounts to Dh12, 5 billions (about US$3,17 billion) invested in various fields, including trade, industry finance, real estate, tourism, fairs and exhibitions, construction and services," she elaborated.

She said the newly established ministry for Social Affairs , among other things, had been implementing a number of comprehensive social programs aimed at providing a dignified living condition to needy people including women suffering from financial hardship, adding that a number of companies in the private sector have been allocating a certain percentage of their shares to a certain individuals who qualify for financial assistance, including women, thus providing for them a permanent source of income.

The General Women's Union plays, through its branches in all the parts of the UAE, continues to play a major role in providing the necessary support for women to assist them in finding sources of income through the establishment of small businesses, she said, and expressed the wish that the debate would contribute in finding the best ways to further enhance women's status in the area of decision-making and empower them economically and socially for the sake of progress and prosperity of all societies. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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