Four Emirati female ministers stressed on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday that society’s success depends on empowering women and achieving gender equality at the workplace, pointing out that the UAE has adopted this policy since its establishment 46 years ago.
At the forum, UAE has the largest representation in its history with 12 ministers, including five women.
Asharq Al-Awsat interviewed four of them. They are Minister of State for Public Education Jameela Salem al-Muhairi, Minister of Community Development Hessa Bint Eisa Bu Humaid, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences Sarah al-Amiri, and Minister of State for Food Security Mariam al-Muhairi.
The four ministers reviewed UAE's experience in empowering women and efforts to achieve gender equality at work.
The Minister of State for Public Education pointed out that women make up 31 percent of the UAE cabinet, and that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum is seeking to increase the ratio to 50.
When asked whether the UAE will appoint a woman at a so-called sovereign ministry, the ministers unanimously agreed that the appointments are based on competence, not gender.
"In 2018, the World Economic Forum continues to discuss empowering women, at at time when the UAE has been empowering women since its foundation 46 years ago," said al-Amiri, adding: "Each Emirati woman with a good position is there because of her efficiency."
For her part, Jamila al-Muhairi pointed out that women’s presence at her ministry has been almost the highest among the services ministries, pointing out that achieving equality between men and women goes beyond senior positions to enabling them in all sectors.
The Minister referred to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's speech on conditioning the success of communities with empowering women. She also gave an example of European countries in terms of gender equality in the workplace.
"Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan did not differentiate between women and men in education, and he stressed the importance of equality between the male and female components of the labor force," she added.
In a related context, the ministers welcomed the reforms taking place in Saudi Arabia under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his Crown Prince Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
"The close relationship between UAE and Saudi Arabia is not baseless. We are brothers and we share land, religion, language and origin. That is why, Saudi Arabia's success and development is directly linked to the UAE," indicated Minister Hessa Bu Humaid.
She went on to say that a successful woman not only benefits herself but also her small and extended family, and develops her community.
Hence, "the success of Saudi women is part of the Kingdom's successes."
In turn, Minister of State for Public Education Jameela Salem al-Muhairi, lauded the reforms in Saudi Arabia. "I am pleased with the reforms and empowerment of Saudi women to take a prominent role in society," she said.
Minister Mariam al-Muhairi stated that she was eager to work with her Saudi counterparts to find solutions to common challenges.
Minister of State for Advanced Sciences explained that this year's World Economic Forum is themed "Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World" which means it is imperative to reflect a positive image of the region's potentials, often controlled by wars, blood and fanaticism.
"UAE is seeking to change the negative image associated with the Middle East, by giving positive examples that include the confidence of the people in their government. UAE ranked second among the world's most trusted nations according to Edelman Foundation," she said.
"I feel very proud when young people at the forum asked me about the Ministry of Youth, or when I noticed the participation of the large female audience within the ministerial delegation," said Mariam al-Muhairi, who is participating in Davos for the first time.