Women are the heart of the UAE

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It is time to reflect on the progress made in female empowerment and the problems that are still to be overcome

Gulf News
17:08 March 8, 2018

As International Women’s Day passes, it’s worth assessing just how the events of this past year have highlighted that, despite all the legislation and changes in social attitudes that have taken place, women still remain unequal and are often objectified. Indeed, the #MeToo campaign that has grown widely since the events that led to the outing of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein as a serial misogynist and abuser of women shows that there is still much work to be done for true equality to exist.

When it comes to the corporate sector, women are still slow to rise to places of equality in the boardroom and on the business floor. And women who do make it to the top of a corporation are treated as novelties and exceptions, rather than as equal to their male counterparts. That’s a distinction that is sadly reflected in paycheques, where female employees are paid less than males on average. And in western nations where legislation exists to prevent such indifferences, both the statistical and empirical evidence suggests otherwise.

These past months have seen more and more women speaking out against more and more men who acted inappropriately, were sexually suggestive or downright physically abusive to them. From Hollywood to the White House, in corporations and in the field of sports, women have found the courage to speak and shame those brutes who were guilty of such indiscretions, transgressions and crimes. The trend of women speaking out ought to continue and be welcomed, for such sexist behaviour can only be truly stamped out when the cold light of day shines into dark corners. For those who campaign for equality and reforms, they carry the torch today from those who campaigned a century ago for the right to vote, equality and the end to repressive and backward laws and attitudes that treat women as second class citizens.

Here, in the UAE, from the very foundation of this union, the Leadership of the nation committed themselves to equality and cherished the special role played by women. They are values that still hold true now, with High Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, highlighting that women’s Day “is a global occasion to reaffirm the special status of women in our homeland. Women are the heart of our nation, mothers to our martyrs and partners in our development. Their notable presence strengthens our march towards development and prosperous future.” We couldn’t agree more.

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