This week the Emirate nation joins the rest of the world in celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8. The first IWD was celebrated in 1911 in a few European countries. IWD was first observed as a popular occurrence after 1977 when the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.
As mentioned in a Khaleej Times post, “International Women’s Day is celebrated to honor the economic, social and political achievements of women internationally. It is also a day to remember the issues and challenges affecting women around the world.”
UAE’s efforts, despite tradition, is promising new social, economic and political opportunities for Islamic women with equal rights and empowerment. With Islam as the major religion in the United Arab Emirates, and due to cultural traditions, one could believe the controversy on gender roles would remain an issue, but that is no longer the case. In fact, the UAE women’s role has been strengthened and has gained new dimensions due also to the encouragement and support of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of Emirates, reports Khaleej Times.
While maintaining the originality of Arab and Islamic traditions, Emirati woman have achieved a qualitative leap in society. Today, Emirati society is one and the same: women alike men are actively involved in their country’s development and each have the right to assume the highest positions according to their abilities and qualifications, affirms the Khaleej Times post.
Although the social order is still based on religion, which is a very important component of UAE society that forms the basis of its culture, its political system and way of life, the UAE is making progress when it comes to gender equality. As per a Worldwide Study, the Global Gender Gap 2014 compiled by the World Economic Forum, the nation has granted more liberty and equal opportunity to Emirati women. In fact, the UAE is seen as the most progressive society in the Arab region. UAE does not discriminate because of gender with respect to education, employment or the quality of services provided.
Patriarchy, as a generalized ideology, is still visible in social life. Although the Quran gives the man the right of ‘guardianship’ or ‘superiority’ over the family, some suggest there is a significant sense of equality between the two genders in all respects with the right to work and be educated. Women in the UAE will continue to be a primary force in influencing the development goals to create economic prosperity, something only possible with equal rights for both men and women.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, the UAE is offering the following events:
• The WORLD OF WOMEN (WOW) FILM Fair Middle East – “WOW is a unique showcase of films by women or about women,” presented by Straight Street Media at VOX Cinemas, Dubai. Show times: 07 March 2015 15.00 and 08 March 2015 21.00
• INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: MAKE IT HAPPEN! – “[It] encourages effective action for advancing and recognizing women.” This event will showcase inspiring stories and views on women as agents of change and development. The venue will be at the Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City, Dubai. Date & Time: 07 March 2015 17.00 to 18.00
Whatever one does this day, the IWD tradition sees men honoring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc. with flowers (e.g., bright yellow Mimosas—a common practice in Italy) and small gifts, such as jewelry.