ABU DHABI // An increase in the number of women standing for election to the FNC has been welcomed as encouraging.
In Umm Al Qaiwain and Dubai, one in five of those registering as a candidate was a woman, with the total number nationwide increasing to 85 this year from 63 in 2006.
While there was also an increase in the number of male candidates from 2006, the rise in women was particularly notable, said Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for FNC Affairs and chairman of the National Elections Committee.
Dr Gargash has previously applauded the work of women such as Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, who served on the previous FNC.
Although Dr Al Qubaisi was the only woman to win a seat during the elections in 2006, eight others were later appointed - making up 22.5 per cent of the 40-seat council.
But Dr Gargash warned that registering was the "easiest part", and he added that the campaigning period in September would be the real challenge.
Campaigning can cause particular problems for a woman because societal norms can make it difficult for her to sit with a man and convince him to vote for her.
Against this, almost half of the 129,274 citizens eligible to vote are women.
"This is a good opportunity for women to reach other women," said Dr Gargash.
Many candidates who registered to stand for election next month said they had been inspired by the successes of the women who served before them.
Noora Al Nowais, an international relations adviser at the Department of Economic Development who is also working on her doctorate at UAE University, was the first woman to register as a candidate in the capital.
Mrs Al Nowais said women's work on the last FNC had been a big encouragement.
"They proved that women were very much capable of taking on that role," she said.
Another female candidate, Dr Tarfa Al Sheryani, agreed.
"Women showed their strengths and power at the last FNC," Dr Al Sheryani said.
"It was a push. Women now have a presence in all places. They are ministers and employees."