Conditions for women across the region are improving, according to the UAE's Minister of Foreign Affairs
The UAE is an excellent example of a country that has worked hard to ensure that women can play leading roles in public and political life, according to Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
In an opinion piece written for Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper, Sheikh Abdullah wrote that “women’s rights have improved” across the Middle East in recent years.
“This growing momentum in the region deserves to be acknowledged and fostered,” he said. “It also needs to be protected from powerful forces in the region that still resist change and seek to push back against women’s rights. The cost of failure will be severe.”
Sheikh Abdullah said he believes that women will play a key role if the Middle East hopes to tap into the “vast potential” of its young and well-educated population, given that 60 percent of the region’s population is below the age of 30.
“We can tap into more of that potential by paying attention to the challenges women in the region face and by providing them with equal opportunity, equal pay and a strong voice in our societies,” he wrote.
The UAE, he added, provides the best example of a country that has taken concrete steps to break down barriers, and increase the percentage of women in government and the private sector.
“The measures that we have taken were borne out of a conviction that, unless we support women, our country will not be able to reach its true potential,” he said.
“As we see it in the UAE, every step we can take to empower women is a step in the right direction.”