H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, and Honorary Patron of Sharjah Businesswomen Council, has said that women in the U.A.E. have an elevated status stemming from the respect and appreciation shown by the U.A.E.’s wise leadership for their effective presence in the community and significant role in all areas of the development process.

The statement was made during her meeting with Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women at the entity’s headquarters in New York, during the 69th session of the UN General Assembly.

She said that this approach has significantly contributed to enabling women to participate in decision-making processes and to attain the highest local and international positions.

She clarified that the historic approach adopted by the U.A.E. in supporting and empowering women is based on true Islamic Sharia, which appreciates women, gives them full rights and instructs men to work in partnership with women.

She also stressed that those extremist groups which degrade the value and dignity of women, excluding women from the right of education, work and life, are not related to true Islam, a religion of justice and tolerance.

Sheikha Jawaher discussed the status of women at local, regional, and international levels, and how to advance their social and economic roles in order to enable them to be active partners in the development process in the regions where women’s rights are restricted.

She discussed recommendations to enhance the status of women in the Arab region and provide access to education and healthcare, which are essential rights with an impact not only on women but also on the family unit and community.

Sheikha Jawaher also said that Emirati women have, in the last four decades, gained the confidence of their people, showing an outstanding contribution and creativity in all areas, and have been granted more rights and gains, thanks to the support of the country’s leaders, adding that men and women in the U.A.E. are working side by side as partners in the development process to create a better future for future generations.

“The U.A.E. has offered every possible means to women to help them unleash their potential and reach new horizons with their families and people”, she said.

Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi added that the U.A.E. ranks first in the Middle East region for treating women with respect, according to the Social Progress Index report, launched by the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council last April. This shows that the economic development in the U.A.E. is based on a similar social development, with women’s contribution playing a key role in this development.

With regard to women’s status at the regional and international levels, she expressed confidence that the efforts exerted by international organisations, including UN Women, will help accelerate the women’s empowerment process in communities where women’s rights are not fully upheld. She also stressed the importance of making education a top priority and ending any restrictions to gender equality in higher education.

In her capacity as UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, Sheikh Jawaher was briefed by the Executive Director of UN Women about the entity’s programmes and services for refugee women, particularly in the Middle East region, stressing the importance of providing education and rehabilitation to women in countries of asylum, enabling them to continue life with hope, financial independence and confidence.

Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka welcomed the opportunity to discuss potential areas of collaboration.

“H.H. Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi’s contribution to women’s leadership and to the economic empowerment of women in Sharjah and beyond is exemplary. I salute her passionate commitment to supporting women so that they are able to provide for themselves, their families and communities. I have been most impressed by the inspiring examples of initiatives in Sharjah under Sheikha Jawaher’s leadership that have alleviated the suffering of women and fostered their empowerment. This is a strong and sustainable way in which to support the growth not just of individuals, but of society as a whole.”