x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

More women expected in FNC elections

The forthcoming FNC elections and appointments to the advisory body must involve a greater number of females, the head of FNC affairs said.

The number of female candidates in the forthcoming elections is expected to increase in a reflection of the changing make-up of society, the head of the FNC affairs said.

In the last nationwide poll for the FNC, in 2006, one woman, Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, was elected and eight others were appointed to the 40-member advisory council. Speaking at Dubai Women Establishment yesterday, Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for FNC Affairs, said more women could have been appointed were it not for "split voting".

And he suggested there should be greater efforts made to help women rise to FNC positions during the next election in September, when more than 80,000 Emiratis will be invited to vote.

He said: "What I suggest is that if there are several candidates from various emirates, that there should be some kind of [coordination], as in someone has to step down for someone else on the basis that the goal is for women to be elected."

Dr Gargash said the appointment of the women to the FNC five years ago had all been possible with a sea-change in the views of women.

He said: "In the 1980s [women] used to have a limited appearance in the workplace, and if seen were only found in the field of education.

"In the past 30 years this stereotype has shattered. Women have become a main pillar at some establishments, government and private."

This change, he said, happened silently and with the “complete approval” of society.

“Society has approved now, the dad has accepted this, the brother has accepted this – a father who previously criticised a girl for wanting to work now criticises a girl who graduates and doesn’t want to work,” he said.

“It has changed, society itself has changed,” he said, adding that it was a sign of a maturing nation.

“Today, women represent 59 per cent of the total workforce in the UAE public sector and we have four women ministers.”

This acceptance, he said, had helped women participate in politics.

“The UAE has proven that a conservative society can still accept women taking leading roles and participating in politics,” he said.

Earlier, speaking to The National, Dr Gargash said: “In enlarging participation [in the election], we have been successful in including women in the process.

“Previously, in the appointed members of the FNC, women were not represented. They have now emerged as important players, both as voters and candidates.

“We expect in the days leading to September 24 for women to be active and to come to the new FNC with a strong voice.

“We hope the 22 per cent representation for women is maintained and enlarged, and I think this is a truly remarkable achievement.”

osalem@thenational.ae