UAE Elects First Woman FNC Speaker

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Dr. Amal Abdullah Juma Karam Al Qubaisi has been appointed Chairperson of the UAE Federal National Council, the first time a woman has held the post since the nation’s inception in 1971, and a first for the Gulf Cooperation Council member states.In 2006, in an historic vote, Dr. Al Qubaisi became the first woman to be elected to the UAE Federal National Council.

An architect and architecture teacher at UAE University, speaking at the time of her election as a member for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Dr. Al Qubaisi said, “I owe my success to my deep belief in Allah the Almighty, to the support I received from members of the electoral colleges in Abu Dhabi and to the sincere and realistic promises I gave during my campaign.”

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from UAE University, and both a Master’s Degree and a PhD from the University of Sheffield in the UK.

Dr. Al Qubaisi, who wrote her doctoral dissertation on the preservation of architectural heritage, has also worked with UNESCO, the United Nations heritage agency, on conservation projects.

In 2011, she made history again when she was elected as First Deputy Speaker of the FNC, and became the first woman to chair a session of the Federal National Council when she deputized for the Speaker, Mohammed Al Murr.

She was honored with an Abu Dhabi Award in 2008.

Amal-Abdullah-Juma-Karam-Al-Qubaisi
Dr Amal Al Qubaisi has been elected the President and Speaker of the Federal National Council (FNC) in the 16th legislative chapter. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

Women in the UAE have been encouraged and empowered since the foundation of the state. This policy is spearheaded by the country’s leadership and backed by the UAE Constitution, which guarantees equal rights for men and women in accordance with the precepts of Islam. As a result, the role of women in society has evolved considerably over the years. Today, the economic and social benefits of diversity are universally recognized and embraced and women are viewed as partners in achieving sustainable development.

Emirati women are well represented in all echelons of society, including the political arena, diplomatic corps, judiciary and the commercial sector. Four women hold ministerial positions in the Cabinet, including the position of Secretary-General of the Cabinet, and women constitute 17.5 per cent of the UAE’s partially elected representative body, the Federal National Council.

Three of the UAE’s ambassadors, one Consul-General and the UAE’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York are women.

Four women have been appointed as judges, two as public prosecutors and 17 as assistant public prosecutors and marriage officials. Women also serve in the armed forces (one at Brigadier level), customs and police.

Prestigious government entities, such as twofour54 media free zone, Tacoma Business Park and Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority, are headed by women. In fact, women constitute 66 per cent of the public sector workforce (the average globally is 48 percent), with 30 percent in senior and decision-making positions, close to the level in advanced countries.

Under the leadership of Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the General Women’s Union (GWU) has been tirelessly pursuing the empowerment of women since its formation in 1975.

Sheikha Fatima is also Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood. Early on, the GWU focused on primary issues of concern for women, children and the family, including literacy, education and health.

Dr. Amal Abdullah Juma Karam Al Qubaisi (Wam)
Dr. Amal Abdullah Juma Karam Al Qubaisi (Wam)

Due in no small part to GWU efforts, life expectancy at birth for women is now on a par with developed countries. 99 per cent of births in the UAE are attended by professionals and the mortality rate for women in childbirth has been reduced to 12 per 100,000.

As the needs of women have developed, so the range and focus of the GWU’s concerns and expertise have evolved. The first Strategy for the Empowerment of Emirati Women was launched in 2002. Prepared with the assistance of experts from the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, the strategy concentrated on eight main areas: education, health, the economy, law-making, the environment, the social domain, information, political participation and decision-making.

Following an analysis of its strengths and weaknesses, Sheikha Fatima launched and update to the strategy in 2015 to cover the periods 2015 to 2021. This provides a framework and reference for all federal and government institutions and civil society organizations in developing plans and work programmes to empower women in all areas of sustainable development.

As the needs of women have developed, so the range and focus of the GWU’s concerns and expertise have evolved. The first Strategy for the Empowerment of Emirati Women was launched in 2002. Prepared with the assistance of experts from the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, the strategy concentrated on eight main areas: education, health, the economy, law-making, the environment, the social domain, information, political participation and decision-making.

Following an analysis of its strengths and weaknesses, Sheikha Fatima launched and update to the strategy in 2015 to cover the periods 2015 to 2021. This provides a framework and reference for all federal and government institutions and civil society organizations in developing plans and work programmes to empower women in all areas of sustainable development.

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