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  Middle East & Africa
United Nations Honors Sheikha Fatima for Harnessing Active Role of UAE Women
Bestowal of the United Nations in honor of HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak for enhancement of the status of Arab women and realize their aspirations.

The United Nations has honored Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of General Women's Union and of Family Development Foundation, at a special ceremony on March 8 in recognition of her leading role in support of the issues of women, family and children, as well as her pioneering role in the empowerment of Emirati women for political participation.

The bestowal is made considering her as a model for Arab women with distinct humanitarian contributions transcending national and regional boundaries and extending to the entire world.

Dr. Elissar Sarrouh, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the UAE presented the memorial Shield of Honour to Sheikha Fatima at a gala event hosted at the Emirates Palace for this occasion.

The presentation was made in citation of Sheikha Fatima's contribution in harnessing the active role of Emirati women as well as the keenness of Her Highness to strengthen and develop their role and empowering them to take advantage of the opportunities available in front of them.

In a statement made on this occasion, Dr. Sarrouh hailed the support of Sheikha Fatima to issues such as gender equality and women's rights as well as her continued campaigns aimed at increasing the representation of women in government jobs and at guaranteeing suitable conditions for working mothers. She also commented the continuing efforts of Sheikha Fatima to activate the participation of Emirati women in the political and economic spheres, by way of encouraging establishment of businesswomen councils in different parts of the UAE.

Dr.Sarrouh also praised Sheikha Fatima's success in transforming UAE's General Women's Union to an ideal platform through which the women could refine and sharpen their capabilities in order to take advantage of all various opportunities in front of them and to exercise their role effectively for the social welfare.

Gender equality is crucial to the well being of all nations. It is not only the responsibility of women; it is the responsibility of us all, women as well as men. The UAE policy to involve women to participate in the country's development and decision-making process encourages many UAE national women to get involved in all kinds of fields.

The UAE is one of the few Gulf Arab countries that has paved the way for women to hold positions of power and business, according to WAM.

H.H.Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak underlined the joint Arab women's' action and the creation of new and boarder venues advance the status of Arab women and realize their aspirations. Noura Al Suweidi, Directed of General Women Union, said that the UAE, thanks to Sheikha Fatima, has always supported Arab joint women works, in order to achieve family stability and to preserve social security.

She founded the first women's society in the country, the Abu Dhabi Women's Society in 1973. In 1975, she went on to unite all the women's organizations in the country under the General Women Federation.,
This Federation is an autonomous body with its own budget and planning. Its priority in the early days of the UAE was to promote education amongst women. Sheikha Fatima realized that women would not be able to play their role in society in the absence of education and knowledge.

She has focused on women education through all educational phases to acquire the knowledge skills. Thus, Sheikha Fatima has drawn the supporting plans. She established public libraries and fought illiteracy amongst women. This has resulted into women's availability in the different sectors nowadays.

In appreciation of the efforts of Her Highness as mentioned above, Sheikha Fatima was awarded the title Mother of the Emirates during the ceremony held in 2005 in celebration of the International Women's Day.

Thanks to the efforts made in promotion of women s role, especially those made by Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the wife of the late President Sheikh Zayed, the UAE women have developed spiritually, culturally and socially. They managed to assume important positions in all fields taking advantage of the educational opportunities offered to them.

Available data shows that females represent the majority of students in some universities and higher educational institutions in the UAE. Women represent 15 percent of the academic staff of the University of the United Arab Emirates, 53 percent in the Ministry of Education, 45.2 percent in the Ministry of Health, 35.4 percent in the higher education sector, 40 percent in the Ministry of Economy, 28.7 percent in the Foreign Ministry, 33.3 percent in the filed of labor and social affairs, 18.8 percent in the Ministry of Finance and Industry, 32.6 percent in the financial and banking sector, and 7 percent in the insurance industry.

They are also present at other different sectors including engineering, science, media and communications, computer technology, law, commerce, and the oil industry, to mention a few.

There is a women's corps within the Armed Forces. Women s military training college has been established in Abu Dhabi, bearing the name of one the great heroine of Arab history, Khawla bint Al Azwar.

Recent political developments in UAE showed women s ability to access the cabinet and recently the Federal National Council. Since the appointment of the two female ministers: Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi as Minister of Economy and Mrs. Mariam Mohammed Khalfan Al Roumi as Minister of Social Affairs, they have proven to be the right choices for these prestigious positions.

In the first-ever general election held in UAE recently, voters picked Dr. Amal Abdullah al-Qubaisi as the first female Council member. These developments reflect the recognition of women status in high-ranking position beside their fellow men in the UAE.

More recently, the United Arab Emirates has vowed to continue its efforts to achieve gender equality in all walks of life and eliminate all forms of discrimination against women.

"The UAE continued, under its wise leadership, to make efforts towards the achievement of gender equality in all areas of work, and elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.
Such efforts have yielded in realizing noticeable gains for women in the areas of education, health, and work where the percentage of girls enrolled in higher education has amounted to 77%, and the numbers of women with Masters and PHD degrees continued to increase.

As a result, women currently represent 22.4% of the total labor force in all areas of work in the UAE, where 66% of the government jobs are held by women, 30% of which are decision-making posts, according to a recent statistics data.

"Sustained efforts were also made by the UAE Government towards promoting a culture of equality and justice in all government institutions, particularly in schools and media, and for removing the social and physiological barriers to the complete involvement of women in the various employment sectors and specializations."






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