x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Emirati women can realise dreams: Sheikha of Sharjah

She underlines the importance of educating women and developing their character highlighted in the book written by her husband and Ruler of Sharjah, Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad.

The importance of educating women and developing their character is highlighted in the second edition of Hadeeth al Thakera, a book written by Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad, Ruler of Sharjah.

The book, which was launched on National Day, highlights the milestones in the development of the UAE and confirms the country's recognition of women's issues and the support offered to help them build and develop their Arab and Muslim identity.

Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammad, the wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, highlighted the crucial role of local women in society and acknowledged the country's efforts in helping young women pursue their ambitions.

"The country has opened doors to Emirati women encouraging them to work in all fields, so that they can become doctors, teachers, journalists, presenters and social supervisors, allowing them to realise their capacity and what suits their nature," she said.

According to a recent YouGov study, three times as many women as men pursue higher education in the UAE, but only 28 per cent of the national workforce is made up of Emirati women. Nevertheless, officials commended the UAE's constant support in the progressing role of women in the development of the nation.

Citing a popular phrase, Sara Nour, an American University of Sharjah (AUS) graduate, said: "If you educate a woman, you educate a nation. A woman is likely to become a mother who will pass on knowledge and wisdom to her family. The same way negative practices can spread like wildfire, so can the positive ones."

Many elaborate national programmes and plans are enabling Emirati women to broaden their horizons and hold leading positions, Sheikha Jawaher said. One such example where women have succeeded in holding top positions is the Federal National Council, where 22.5 per cent of the parliamentary members are women.

Dr Ibtissam al Kutbi, a political science professor at the Social and Humanitarian College at UAE University, said the number of educational options available to women has allowed them to explore non-traditional fields of study, including specialities that used to be limited to men, such as information technology and engineering.

Officials also added that Sharjah in particular has made large leaps forward in providing women with numerous opportunities that allow them to work towards their aspirations. Sharjah Academic City, for example, allows students to choose whether to receive their education in a co-ed or segregated environment. This flexibility, officials said, has allowed Emirati families to send their women to college without compromising their traditional or cultural beliefs.

Before "there were no universities in the Emirates and Emirati families used to refuse to send their daughters to pursue their education abroad," said Dr Fatima Saeed al Shamsi, the secretary general at UAE University.

Dr Nawar al Hassan Golley, an associate professor in literary theory and women's studies at AUS, noted the growing potential for women, saying she felt optimistic for young Emirati women whose leaders have not only provided them with role models but have also paved the way for education, work, empowerment and leadership.

"In the span of a few decades, the UAE has made gigantic leaps and written admirable success stories by women who have been inspired by their own leaders," Dr Golley said. "One does not witness such progress in many parts of the world; I am proud to be able to live such progressive evolution."

mismail@thenational.ae