As the mother of a young daughter, who is celebrating her first birthday today on International Women’s Day (IWD) 2022, I am immensely grateful for the efforts and sacrifices of Emirati women from all sections of our society.
Since the UAE was founded just over half a century ago, countless female pioneers have succeeded in positively impacting communities across our young nation, and beyond.
Emirati women, past and present, have done so much to pave the way for my generation, allowing us to thrive and forge fulfilling lives and careers in one of the most prosperous and ambitious countries on the planet. These role models provide constant inspiration and guidance so that we may continue their successes into the future.
In turn, I have no doubt that by carrying forward the incredible work that my fellow Emirati women have done so far, and continue to do, young adults like myself can work together to build an even brighter future for my daughter and her generation.
That’s why, to mark IWD 2022, I would like to take a moment to discuss three Emirati women who have made a difference to drive the UAE’s past, present and future success, both domestically and on the international stage.
Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi
Wife of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and arguably the most influential women in the history of the UAE, Sheikha Fatima represents the epitome of what International Women’s Day stands for.
Known as ‘the Mother of Sheikhs’ and the ‘Mother of the UAE’, Sheikha Fatima has played an instrumental role in supporting women’s rights throughout her incredible career.
As Supreme Chairperson of the Family Development Foundation (FDF), Head of the UAE’s General Women’s Union (GWU), and President of the Motherhood and Childhood Supreme Council, Sheikha Fatima continues to play a leading role in advancing adult literacy and free public education for girls.
What’s more, her influence is felt far beyond the borders of the UAE, having spearheaded initiatives across the Middle East and India. With recognition from officials as far afield as Tunisia and Algeria, Sheikha Fatima has been described as “the champion of women’s rights” by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).
It is difficult to imagine how the UAE – and, indeed, its wider region – would look without the tireless efforts and dedication of Sheikha Fatima.
Her Excellency Reem Ebrahim Al Hashimy
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ll no doubt be aware of Expo 2020 Dubai, which is due to conclude later this month.
As Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai, Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimi has been a central figure throughout our nation’s planning and delivery of this global mega-event.
Despite being delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Expo 2020 Dubai has enjoyed enormous success so far, registering more than 11 million visitors as of the start of February 2022.
Perhaps more importantly, the world’s fair has proved an unprecedented international drawcard, with a third of all visitors attending from overseas – hardly surprising given the involvement of a range of multinational organisations, plus 192 participating nations.
Expo 2020 Dubai is the largest global event to have taken place since the pandemic hit, and HE Al Hashimi – who has been involved since the initial bidding stage – has demonstrated her abilities as an international leader and role model for the UAE throughout this period.
Her Excellency Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri
Finally, if you’re looking for an example of how rapidly the UAE has progressed during its first half century, you need look no further than its burgeoning space programme.
As Minister of State for Advanced Technology, Chair of the UAE Space Agency and Deputy Project Manager for the Emirates Mars Mission, Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri is a shining example of the inspirational women who are helping to shape the future of our nation.
A scientist by training, HE Al Amiri has played a pivotal role in the UAE’s space programme since embarking on her glittering career, having worked on both DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2.
In July 2020, she oversaw the successful launch of the Hope orbiter as part of the Emirates Mars Mission. In February of last year, Hope began its orbit of Mars, making the UAE the first ever Arab nation to reach the Red Planet and only the second country globally to successfully enter the Martian orbit on its first attempt.
HE Al Amiri has already contributed so much to the success of the UAE, and I cannot wait to see what else she goes on to achieve during the course of her career.
Three among many
While truly inspirational, the successes of Sheikha Fatima and their excellencies Reem Al Hashimi and Sarah Al Amiri are just a drop in the ocean when it comes to the contributions that women have made to the story of the UAE.
Whether shaping national policy; driving economic growth as business leaders; facilitating research, development and education; or raising future generations of pioneering Emiratis, countless women across our country are busy helping write this exciting story.
So, this International Women’s Day, let’s take a moment to celebrate all the amazing women that have helped make the UAE what it is today.