Dubai: In a bid to enhance gender equality and women’s empowerment in the country, the UAE Gender Balance Council held a meeting with the European - UAE Human Rights Working Group on Saturday.
The meeting was led by the vice-president of the council, Mona Al Merri, who said that for a society to be productive, it has to use the talents and capabilities of women who represent around half of the UAE population.
Speaking about the UAE’s experience in women’s empowerment and gender equality, Al Merri said without the efforts and pioneering initiatives undertaken by Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan in promoting the development of women in the UAE, “women would not have the opportunities they have today”.
Also present at the meeting were Rosamaria Gili, Deputy Head for GCC, Yemen and Iraq in the European External Action Service, who led the European - UAE Human Rights Working Group; Dr Omar Abdul Rahman Al Nuaimi, Assistant Undersecretary for Policy and Strategy at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation; Naji Al Hai Mubarak, acting Undersecretary at the Ministry of Social Affairs; and Shamsa Saleh, CEO of the Dubai Women Establishment.
Al Merri noted that the UAE is a young country that has seen huge positive changes since its formation in 1971. She recalled that in the year of its formation, when the late Shaikh Zayed sought to appoint graduates in government positions, he could find only a total of 45 graduates, of which only four were women. Compared to this, today, women account for 70 per cent of university enrolment. This is a tremendous change that has happened in a short period of time, she said, adding that the high enrolment is an indication of what UAE women can do in the future.
Al Merri pointed out that UAE women are at the forefront of various spheres of life, and are not just playing their roles in the background. She said that the visibly high level of women’s participation in society give expatriates, who have chosen the UAE as their home, a perspective that is very different to the regional stereotypes portrayed in the media.
The empowerment of women is “quite striking” in the UAE, a member of the European delegation said. The delegation voiced the opinion that the UAE offers a positive home-grown model for women’s development and empowerment for the region. It is better to create a model for the region that is from the region, the European delegate noted.