During their participation in the 5th Cairo Woman Empowerment Summit, Abu Dhabi Businesswomen Council presents its journey of women economic and development empowerment
HE Mariam Mohammed Al Rumaithi, Chairwoman of the Executive Board of the Abu Dhabi Businesswomen Council, stressed that women in the UAE under their wise leadership have achieved a lot to go beyond women empowerment to society empowerment through women. This came during her speech at the 5th Women Empowerment Summit, held in Cairo.
Al Rumaithi said that the Emirati women empowerment journey began before the foundation of the UAE Federation in 1971 by the late founder of the Union State, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, by supporting women education and the establishment of institutions that consider women affairs, meet their needs and support Empowering them and promoting their active participation in the community. This approach was followed by the leaders of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and their Highnesses the Rulers of the Emirates (May Allah protect them all).
She added: Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak (May Allah protect her), Chairperson of General Women's Union, the Supreme Chairperson of Family Development Foundation, Chairperson of Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, Honorary Chairperson of the Abu Dhabi Businesswomen Association has spearheaded the Women Empowerment Project in the UAE since its inception, and on March 8th 2015, Her Highness launched the National Strategy for women empowerment and leadership in the UAE 2015-2021. This strategy provides a framework for the government sector, the private sector and civil society institutions to develop plans and programmes of action that contribute to making the UAE one of the most progressed countries in women empowerment and leadership. She added that empowering Emirati women is a well-established approach to our leadership, as stated by Her Highness Sheikha Fatima:
"The woman is the man’s partner in the building process with all the meanings of participation. The girl today is no longer a captive to her traditional role inside the house. Many broad prospects have opened before her which would enable her to become a full member of her society. "
Al Rumaithi pointed out that in 2015 and by a contribution from the United Arab Emirates to achieve goal # (5) of the sustainable development goals, the Emirates Council for Gender Balance was established in order to reduce the gender gap and balance them in decision-making seeking to achieve the vision of the UAE to be one of the top 25 countries in the balance index by 2021.
In accordance with the constitution and national laws, women in the UAE have equal rights in economic resources, access to financial services, and the right to property and to dispose of land and other property. HE Mariam Al Rumaithi explained some of the percentages occupied by women in a number of sectors, including 22% of the National Parliament seats are held by women. She said that according to the directives of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (May Allah protect him), the representation of Emirati women shall be increased to 50% in the council seats as of the start of the electoral cycle 2019. Women also represent 40% of the total employees of the Emirates Space Agency. All of these indicators show the extent of women empowerment in the sectors of employment and overall development, especially in the business and economic sector, where UAE businesswomen constitute about 21% of the total number of businesswomen in the GCC countries and thus are considered the highest percentage in the GCC countries. There are 12,000 Emirati businesswomen, with a rate of 45 billion dirhams, the size of their investments. They contribute to operate and manage 22,000 economic and commercial projects.
During the workshop on Women Economic Empowerment through their advancement in the practical departments, HE Al Rumaithi presented a paper on the UAE's pioneering experience in empowering Emirati women in management positions. Al Rumaithi also pointed out to the UAE's tireless efforts to enhance the women representation on boards of directors and executive positions. She said that the UAE was the first Arab country and the second in the world to introduce mandatory appointment of women members on boards of companies and government institutions and to provide equal opportunities for women to participate in various fields of work in government and private sectors noting that in April 2018, the Securities and Commodities Authority issued governance and institutional discipline standards, which impose on companies, when forming the Board of Directors, that women's representation on such Boards of public shareholding companies should not be less than 20%. Moreover, the Ministry of Economy is considering ways to enhance the representation of women in executive positions and increase their representation on Boards of Directors of companies, specifically in the private sector in the UAE.
The UAE efforts to strengthen the presence of women on boards and executive positions have culminated in the publication of the Gender Balance Handbook as a reference and comprehensive tool to help government and private institutions support gender balance by clarifying the measures and concrete steps to be followed to implement the requirements of this balance, which are set in accordance with international standards, in conformity with the UAE local laws. Al Rumaithi affirmed that there are newly designed national indicators for gender balance that focus on three main aspects: Women should hold senior leadership positions, women's representation in technical and specialized fields, and the creation of workplaces that support gender balance. Gender balance indicators will also be applied within both public and private sector institutions, and will be initially introduced in federal bodies, then local authorities, to be eventually applied in private sector institutions. The directors of each institution will be responsible for reporting on the progress achieved and reaching specific targets linked to each gender balance indicator and the institution itself.
On the other hand, participants in the 5th Women Empowerment Summit in Cairo, and the participants in the 12th African Businesswomen Conference, organized during the summit, praised the experience of the leading Emirati woman in her achievements and successes in various fields and at all levels. More than 100 women leaders representing most African and Arab countries also praised the leading role of the United Arab Emirates in women economic empowerment by focusing on supporting SMEs, capacity building, education, training and access to business and incubator development centres, women economic empowerment and entrepreneurship promotion among young women and young women's enterprises as career innovators and good practice to promote entrepreneurship among young creative women, pointing out to the vital roles played by UAE Chambers of Commerce and Businesswomen Councils to support the empowerment of women and serve their participation in the overall economic development of the national economy.
It is worth-mentioning that the participation of the Abu Dhabi Businesswomen Council at the Women Empowerment Summit in Cairo was the largest in terms of the number of participants, with the delegation including HE Mariam Al Rumaithi, Chairperson of the Executive Board of the Council, and members of the Executive Board of the Council, HE Reed Al Dhaheri, Ms. Alia Mazroui, Ms. Fatima Al Mazroui, Dr. Huda Al Matrooshi, and Ms. Shafiqa Al Ameri, Executive Director of the Council, and a large number of women affiliated with the board.