Women at the forefront of UAE’s political reform
Emirati women have enjoyed a special and equal place in society. The leadership has endeavoured to lift their status through education and employment opportunities. Their position has taken national and global dimensions in this connected world. Saturday’s announcement by the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to reserve 50 per cent of seats in the Federal National Council (FNC) for women, goes a step further and empowers them to make a mark as legislators and at the political level. UAE women have been decision-makers at home, in the government and private sectors. This declaration by the President is a landmark, a political shift in the history of the country that is 47 years young. It is brimming with optimism and the leadership has high hopes on youth and women. Policies have been tailor-made for their progress with the country embarking on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Technology will be the great driver of this phase of growth. The excitement is palpable and women will be at the forefront of this revolution.
The leadership believes they can achieve anything if they are provided the right skills and environment to thrive. Social progress through the course of history has been spearheaded by women. Their influence begins in the family and spreads to society. But they have lagged behind in the political sphere. The UAE wants to change that in the Arab world with the right representation, a boost of sorts to help them legislate for themselves and for the country. With this reservation, they will be involved in framing laws that are sensitive to all segments of society. They will be elected on platforms that promote the spirit of the law. A fundamental change in the political and legislative process is what we are witnessing in the country. The leadership is sending out a message that women are equal with men politically. The process is irreversible and is part of wider reforms the country is undertaking as it gradually moves away from the era of oil and embraces innovation and knowledge.
Reforms have been phased and carefully planned, and these political changes need wide social support to succeed. A democratic change in mindset is being envisaged by the wise leadership that is paving the way for a more inclusive society. We salute and laud them for showing the way.