H.E MARYAM AL ROOMI Minister of social affairs UAE Women in the Arab World, Africa and Asia Emerging Economies, Emerging Leadership Shaping the Future Together 12 May 2011 London, United Kingdom Arab International Women’s Forum (AIWF)
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم Good Morning Ladies & Gentleman I am very honoured to be here today, to celebrate with you all, the 10th anniversary of Arab International Women’s Forum (AIWF), and the achievements that have been made, to encourage women to play effective roles in social, economic and political life. United Arab Emirates was ranked by the United Nation as the first in “ empowering women in the Arab region” and the Human Development Report ranked it also the first regionally in narrowing the gender gaps in health, education and workforce. UAE constitution grants women the same rights, duties, privileges and capacities as those given to men, and also the government has developed a number of policies to the advancement of women, and promoting legal measures for the full participation of women in the development of the society. Emirati women are strongly motivated and supported by the leadership of UAE, qualifying them to achieve many leadership and political position. A big movement of infrastructuringlegislation and laws has been taking place within the government in order to increase efficiency of financial and human resources with special emphasis on working women.
I would like to highlight briefly some important facts and figures :- Education has always been a top priority for the UAE government and has received the highest allocation of the federal budget which is 22.5%. There are currently more than 50.000 university students in 64 public and private universities. females constitute 62% of the total number of the students and the percentage goes up to 75% in UAE university. In addition to that, there has been an increase in the number of females holding Master and Doctorate degrees. Women illiteracy went down to 2.4% against 10% illiteracy rate among men. The government is doing a lot of efforts to mobilizing public opinion and removing boundaries, with clear footprints on gender equality and as a result of that 30% of Emirati women working in government in higher positions as Coe’s, executive directors, undersecretary's in ministries, ambassadors, and judges and even marriage registrars which is difficult to be in a Muslim country.
22.5% of the National Federal council (which is the parliament )are women, and this percentage considered to be one of the highest in the world. Female ministers forming 17% of the UAE cabinet. In 1991 The Gulf region’s first military college for women was established in Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE and women are granted the same training and responsibilities as their male counter part, even as fighter pilots and special security forces. There are more than 102 governmental and non governmental bodies promoting women empowerment, including Women Union and 9 big active women associations with 15 branches, are working hard since 1970, to support and enable women to be active and effective in their leading roles. UAE economy is rapid and growing very fast and our country has been the only Arab country included for the second year in the third and most advanced stage of “ Innovation-driven economies”, classified on the basis of their adoption of factors that promote innovation in economic development. UAE focuses on encouraging the private sector and advancing the economy to achieve quality of life for the whole society.
In private sector, UAE possess a large number of business women, nearly 5.5% of businesses are run by women and with investment of more than 14.6 billion Dh. (That is 3.8billion USD), in commerce, banking, real estate, tourism, industry, public services, and constructions. Emirati Business Women established a UAE Business Women Council and other 3 branches in the big cities, and since these councils have been established in 2002, the number of business women has, increased 5 times. UAE government has Launched since 3 years a Leadership Programme connected directly to the Prime Minister to facilitate the development of a “ talent pool “ from which future leaders can be drawn. A good number of working women have benefit from that programme which is a one year course of building Leadership ability, Knowledge, skills and experience. In UAE there are many big awards and prizes for women only, as recognition for their pioneering contributions and effective leadership. The UAE has joined many international treaties related to women rights, including The Convention Eliminating all forms of discrimination against women in 2004.
We, women of UAE have experienced the true chances of equality at all level and in all aspects of life. Distinguished Guests……… we really value and appreciate the efforts of Arab International Women’s Forum, and the goals which are successfully completed during their first decade. They’ve been developing effective dialogues for present and future through organizing forums, conferences and meetings, involving representatives from governments and private sector as well as NGOs. we hope, through this conference, to contribute in producing the right and efficient promotion of knowledge, information and experiences and make good use of both cooperation and communication, for women in the Arab World, Africa and Aisa. Thank you and I wish success for this exceptional gathering.