SHARJAH // As the Sharjah Consultative Council marks its 10th anniversary, another event is being remembered as a first in the Gulf - the appointment of women to the council in 2001. "When men and women sit side by side to discuss important issues of their country, then that is progress," said Saif al Suwaidi, the Speaker of the council.
Aisah al Roumi, one of the trail-blazing five women, made history again when she later became one of the first women to sit on the Federal National Council. The first group remained on the Sharjah Consultative Council for two years; seven women were next selected to serve. Another seven women have been serving since 2007. No one is certain whether those women will be reappointed to the council in December, because the authority to change or retain members of the council is the Ruler's exclusively. Council members can serve a maximum of four years, a minimum of two, and no one serves more than once.
The landmark appointment of women is being remembered as the 40-member consultative council, formed in 1999, celebrates its 10th anniversary. The Sharjah Consultative Council was formed to make recommendations to the 20-member Sharjah Executive Council. Women who sit on the Consultative Council today praise Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed, Ruler of Sharjah and head of the Executive Council, for elevating their predecessors. "Our male counterparts are also always complimenting us," said one member, Dr Maryam al Mur.
"All of them know it well that the women in the council are very capable of refuting anything gender biased to women." Ahlam al Suwaidi, another female council member, noted that women in Sharjah were now diversifying into other fields, including business and education. The next hurdle is getting a woman on to the council's legislative committee, said its member Maytha al Kutbi. Because this is where recommendations are made to the Ruler before he formulates laws, a woman should to be present to have proper influence, she said.
"We believe someday, one woman would make it to this committee," she said, "and men would appreciate her contributions". firstname.lastname@example.org