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Dream big, work hard, say UAE women
BY SALMA ALALEM March 08, 2018
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DUBAI/ SHARJAH: These days if there is one catchphrase that’s catching the attention of the corridors of offices, companies and industry it is women’s empowerment. If we mention power, dreams, education, and empathy, we mean one only person in the community, it is the woman!

As the world observes International Women’s Day today, it is time to ponder about some issues.

No more are women looked upon as the weaker gender. If the #MeToo movement is any indication, the voice of the woman against any kind of harassment, particularly in the workplace, is getting increasingly loud. With social media as a powerful tool, women are addressing a range of issues.

Gender balance is key to growth. Already Saudi Arabian women are taking driving lessons for the first time ahead of a ban on driving being lifted. There are over 100 women running for elections in Lebanon, slated for May. Russian leader Vladimir Putin has acknowledged the importance of female bosses, praising their advantages. The UAE in particular is making stellar strides in this field. Emirati women have emerged trailblazers in fields that were hitherto considered the male domain.

Emirates showed the way when an all-woman crew flew a jumbo flight from Dubai to San Francisco.

Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, says, “Women’s rights are human rights, making gender issues essential to the sociocultural fabric of the world. International Women’s Day gives us the opportunity to assess the advancements we have made in strengthening women’s positions everywhere; to assess how far we have come in tackling issues like pay transparency at the workplace, improving gender equity in health and society.

“Gender inequity is not only a pressing social issue, but also a critical economic challenge. If women – who account for half the world’s working-age population – do not achieve their full economic potential, the global economy will suffer.

“At NAMA Women Advancement Empowerment, we are dedicated to deepening and consistently implementing innovative instruments to motivate women and strengthen their skills to improve their participation in the workforce or their presence in leadership positions, by building avenues that will enable them to exercise influence and reach their set targets.

“Education is the fundamental path to change. On this day, let us all vow to continue on this path of equity and empowerment that has been paved by the strenuous efforts of women and men around the world, by educating ourselves first.” 

Sheikha Hind Bint Majed Al Qasimi,  Acting Chairperson of Sharjah Business Women Council, SBWC, remarks, “Women have come a long way in their journey for equality, but there is still a long distance to cover. International Women’s Day is a global reminder for everyone to encourage women to be bolder, stronger and more powerful in all spheres of life. It is a day that inspires us to celebrate women in all their glory. Women around the world have cast a stone across the waters to create ripples of achievements that have benefited not just us but the global community as a whole.

“The Sharjah Business Women Council was established to contribute to the economic and social development of the Emirate of Sharjah. We function to support women’s full economic integration and assist them in maximising their potential, in the process building human capacity that will help advance our great nation.”

Sheikha Amina Bin Humaid Al Tayer, President of Dubai Women’s Association and Chairperson of the Board of Directors, states that “the Emirati woman has been contributing in empowering the community.”

She also praises the efforts of the wise Emirati leadership, especially the diligent perseverance and efforts of Sheikha Fatima, the “Mother of the UAE,” and Sheikha Hind Bint Maktoum Bin Juma Al Maktoum, the wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Professor Ghada Amer, Vice President of Arab Science and Technology Foundation, was raised in a family that has no boys, so she was keen on making her father proud of her. She wanted to convince him that there was no difference between a boy and a girl.

She studied electrical engineering, considered a male field, and was the first female student to graduate from her batch. She took up an assignment as a teacher assistant, then did her Masters and PhD, and joined the volunteer foundations in the technological field until she came into her own, holding a leading position in the Arab Science and Technology Foundation.

“International Women’s Day means a lot for me, and makes me feel proud of the Arab woman specifically. I used to dream big and I was looking forward to holding an international position, and I had Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi-British architect, and Sameera Moussa, an Egyptian nuclear physicist who strived to make the medical use of nuclear technology affordable to all, as my role models,” Prof. Amer says.

Senem Alp Birim, Executive Director HR and Communications for Near East, Middle East and Africa (NEMEA) and a mother of a 10-year-old son, sees no difference between males and females. However, she believes that there are some advantages of being a lady. For instance, the woman is known as a multitasking person naturally, with an eye for detail. She has a strong ability to make empathy, and is a caring personality, “by human nature, that is why we have been created to be mothers!” she mentions.

Prof Amer and Senem agree on telling all the ladies, “You can make the impossible dreams possible. Dream big as much as you can, and you will do it!”

Senem, who has been working for four years at Takeda Turkey, an international Japanese pharmaceutical industry, recommends that all women have an appetite for growth, and enhance self-awareness by knowing their weak and powerful points.

She dreams of achieving more and more in her company, and as part of the community services, she wishes to start a school for kids who suffer from poor monetary health. “I want to see my son grow up to be a responsible and happy person in future as well,” she adds.

Lama Alnaeli is a clinical dietitian who holds a Masters in health and nutritional science from California. A mother of two kids, she is the Director of Wellness By Design clinics in the UAE.

“On such a day, I do think about women all over the world and because of my speciality in health and nutrition I’m thinking how I can help transfer my knowledge to all women and how I can make them aware of how important is to take care of their health by eating healthy and trying to be in shape,” she says.

She wants all women to lead a healthy lifestyle. Breakfast should be a family affair since it’s very important for the kids to start the day on an energetic note and for the woman to be strong and healthy till she meets her family again when they return home.

Also, she drinks enough water every day, making it a healthy habit and does not forget to pack bottles of water for her children to take to school, even for her husband. “As a woman, I know that I am happy when my family is healthy and happy,” she avers.

She emphasises the importance of healthy shopping, by choosing healthy products. She always remembers to pack healthy lunch boxes for her children and husband. “A healthy food doesn’t have to be complicated or take too much time, it can be with simple ingredients.”

Women should avoid fast food which is full of sodium, salt, saturated fat, and trans-fat, that affect the health and cause a lot of problems in the brain.

She teaches her children the art of making healthy food and makes them get used to it. She is also into sports, and sees to it that the family gets enough sleeping hours.
 

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