x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Translate passion into a powerful FNC

With talented men, and accomplished women, the FNC is better poised than ever to advocate on behalf of the nation.

Mona Al Bahar has amassed an enviable portfolio serving the Emirati community. She was only 18 years old when she established a society to assist Emiratis with special needs in Sharjah. And she became the first Emirati social worker with a doctorate from a US university.

Now, Dr Al Bahar has a chance to utilise her experience in the policy-making process, and benefit the entire nation with her passion, vision and experience. She is one of 20 appointed members of the Federal National Council, selected by the Emirates' rulers, who will begin their terms as FNC members today.

No matter how they arrived in Abu Dhabi, the level of experience this incoming class brings to the FNC means that the country's preeminent advisory body will be better positioned than ever to advocate on behalf of its people. But it is the council's female members who give us the most cause for optimism.

As The National reported yesterday, each of the appointed female members brings with her a wealth of experience in public life. In 2009, Dr Al Bahar highlighted the significance of formulating and enforcing child protection laws. Both Dr Al Bahar and Afra Al Basti, another appointee, worked in senior positions at Dubai Foundation for Women and Children. And Sheikha Eisa Ghanem from Umm Al Qaiwain, the only elected female member, is widely recognised in her community for her achievements as a school teacher.

Social issues - education, maternal and reproductive health, child safety - these are some of the topics past FNC sessions were most successful in addressing. This trend will no doubt continue.

Yet for the FNC to succeed as an institution, evolving with the country, members' passion for their causes must now be translated into the FNC's mandate. Just as importantly, the institutions and organisations these women have led must redouble their efforts. With advocates so close to the halls of power the ideas these groups champion will now have powerful allies.

As the FNC grows in stature we are encouraged that such an accomplished collection of new members - and powerful women - will be in the capital to push the country forward.