x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Women ready to stand in FNC elections

Women make up 46 per cent of the 129,274 Emiratis eligible to take part in the coming Federal National Council elections, and quite a few look ready to stand as candidates.

DUBAI // The excitement among Emirati women at the Federal National Council (FNC) information session in Dubai yesterday was evident as they spoke of their desire to make the most of the opportunity.

Younger women with their eyes set on a political future were also there to find out everything they would need to know for the coming years.

"I want to campaign as a candidate and I came here today to find out about the FNC in greater detail," said Dina Al Suwaidi, 27, an engineer in the public sector. "I am very excited and my family is very happy for me."

Another candidate, Muna Khalifa Hamad, 42, was not yet willing to reveal the areas on which she would focus.

"I came here because I really want to understand all the matters that are related to the FNC," said Ms Hamad, who works in the public sector. "If I want to campaign I need to find out everything about it.

"I feel this is important because if we do not talk about the important issues, then who will? At this age, we have passed through various stages and we know the issues that will matter to the younger generations."

Aisha Abdul Rahman agreed and said she already had the backing of quite a few women if she decided to run.

"My name is listed for the first time," Ms Abdul Rahman said. "I am a board member of the Emirates Business Women Council and some have already shown their support. I have come here today to study all the factors involved.

"There are a lot of issues that I would like to address but I will discuss them when the time is right."

Dr Saeed Al Ghafli, the assistant undersecretary of the Ministry of State for FNC Affairs and a member of the National Election Committee, said: "One of the major achievements of the elections in 2006 was the role of women.

"The role of women was apparent … what some states were unable to achieve in years, we were able to achieve from the very first election."

In 2006, 65 women ran for elections. This year, of 129,274 Emiratis eligible to take part in the elections, women account for 59,991, or 46 per cent.

"With regard to the percentage of women compared to men, we find that they are close. Women reached 46 per cent," said Dr Al Ghafli.

Another woman with the drive to be a part of the growing change was Maryam Khalifa Al Shamsi, 42, who works as a manager at Dubai Customs and also manages the childcare centre there.

"First of all I was surprised that my name was present, so I came because my goals is now to be a future candidate," said Ms Al Shamsi, who received an award last year for her role as a working mother.

"I picked up the brochures so I can find out everything I need to know since both my husband and I intend to run. I will also support others who have the willingness to accomplish something for their country."

Younger women did not shy from the meeting or the responsibility, saying they were driven by their curiosity to find out more about the political process and participation.

"I am a student at school," said Amani Al Buloushi, 17. "I came with my mother today, even though my name is not listed, because I was so excited to find out more about it. I really want to be able to campaign in the future."

Al Unood Mohammad Al Mutawa, who works at Dubai Hospital's quality department, said: "I am here to get an idea about the FNC. I am really curious especially because my father is a political figure, although he is on holiday and does not know that I am here.

"I feel the need to be knowledgeable about many areas such as politics and economics. I am still learning, so perhaps in the future. I will definitely vote for people who want to help the country and are able to make a change."

Maryam Al Hashemi, 52, who has retired from a job at the Education Ministry, said: "I am lucky that my country chose me. I actually wanted to bring my children with me so they could get an idea about it."

balqabbani@thenational.ae