By Amna Binzaal Almheiri, Consul General of the UAE Consulate in New York
In December, I had the privilege to join Forbes and the honorees from their 10th annual 30 Under 30 list to ring the Nasdaq opening bell in celebration of the UAE hosting the inaugural Forbes 30/50 Summit.
Today, the Summit is under way in Abu Dhabi, serving as this year’s physical headquarters for International Women’s Day (IWD). Headlined by former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Summit brings together women spanning all generations to have meaningful conversations on women’s empowerment and equity – and I couldn’t think of a better location to host.
Recently, the UAE ranked first in the Middle East and 24th in the world on advancing women in the 2021 Georgetown Women, Peace and Security Index. As one of nearly half of the employees at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation who are women – including 10 currently serving ambassadors – I’ve seen firsthand how supportive policies in the UAE are empowering women to reach new heights.
As a career diplomat and mother of four, I truly believe that when crafting solutions for a better tomorrow women must be included in the decision-making process. Without considering the impact of policy on women and girls, one is only looking at half the equation. This is why I was honored to represent the UAE on the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women when serving at the UAE Mission to the UN.
As we look to the future, I feel inspired that my country is represented by so many leading women. From Minister of Climate Change and Environment HE Mariam Almheiri advancing the UAE’s global partnerships to combat climate change to HE Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh leading the country’s efforts on the UN Security Council, women in the UAE are at the forefront of so many of the country’s most important initiatives – both at home and abroad.
Outside of government, women like Forbes' most powerful businesswoman in the Middle East, Group Managing Director of Easa Saleh Al Gurg and Emirati HE Dr. Raja Al Gurg, are giving back for the greater good. In 2020, the diversified group and its charity foundation announced a $3.5 million package to support UAE government initiatives to alleviate challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Creating equal opportunities for women today, shows the next generation of Emirati change-makers the sky’s the limit. Already, young women like Noora Alsaeed, a Ph.D. candidate studying at the Laboratory for Atmosphere and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder, are leading in every sector of society – making up 70 percent of all university graduates and more than half of the STEM graduates.
As Consul General in New York, I’ve met many young Emirati women pursuing their education in the US. They are our future artists and engineers. I am inspired by their talent and independence, and their strong desire to learn and expand their global perspectives. Seeing this rise in opportunities excites me when thinking of my daughter, Alya, and who she will turn out to be.
As the UAE convenes action-driven conversations about global women’s empowerment this month, I’m proud of the progress my country has made. We continue to push ourselves to not settle with how things are but instead dream about how they ought to be.
Photo by Vanja Savic, Nasdaq