Women at the fore­front of UAE’s po­lit­i­cal re­form

Khaleej Times - - NATION -

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.

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