Abu Dhabi: Reaching out to more than 337,000 voters, many of the 495 candidates running in the Federal National Council (FNC) elections started their campaigns across the UAE on Sunday, in their bid to win the 20 parliamentary seats. Advertisements in Arabic dailies, social media and street posters listed issues that the candidates would raise if elected. The final list includes 133 candidates from Abu Dhabi, 88 from Dubai, 114 from Sharjah, 61 from Ras Al Khaimah, 26 from Ajman, 20 from Umm Al Quwain and 53 from Fujairah. Campaigning will end on October 4.
Fatima Al Darmaki, an Abu Dhabi TV anchor running in this year’s elections, says if she wins a seat in the House, she will be focusing on creating more jobs and training opportunities for citizens, empowerment of women and boosting of small and medium enterprises. “Every citizen has a right to get a job that suits his or her skills and qualifications and that achieves their social security. That will top my priorities,” Al Darmaki said. She added because women are half of the society, activating their leading role and empowering them in all fields will be her main concern.
Al Darmaki had a BA from UAE University, Al Ain, majoring in radio and television in 2007; then got an MA from Brunel University London, United Kingdom, in media and communications in 2014. She is now a PhD student, Mohammed V University, Rabat, Morocco, in media and diplomacy. “Emirati women are a global role model, becoming active partners in employment and sustainable development. There are successful Emirati models in many areas, most notably Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, President of the General Women’s Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme President of the Family Development Foundation (Umm Al Emarat). Her Highness was able to transform the traditional role of women and raise their profile and their participation in the labour market to 47 per cent this year,” she said.
Al Darmaki said the participation of women in economic activity and the labour market increased after the establishment of the Council of Businesswomen, bringing the number of registered in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry to more than 22,000 businesswomen working in the local and international market. Women’s participation in the Council of Ministers has so far risen to almost 29 per cent, and finally its participation in the Federal National Council has risen to 50 per cent. Thus, Emirati women are the first Arab women in empowering women leaders and parliamentarians.
“The increase in the percentage of women in FNC elections to 50 per cent encouraged me to be a candidate to be effective in the service of the nation and citizens, especially as the next session will be half a century since the founding of the UAE,” she said. This decision, Al Darmaki added, is historic and an exceptional milestone in the political development of women in the country. “It promotes Women’s active participation in elections as candidates and voters, increases their sustainable and inclusive developmental contribution to a very advanced stage of gender balance, and makes full use of their capabilities, energies and potentials in all fields.” Al Darmaki said she will also focus on boosting small and medium businesses.
“The National Strategy for Empowering and Entrepreneurship in the UAE (2015/2021), launched by Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, provides a general, reference and guiding framework for all government institutions, whether federal or local as well as private, to help develop plans and programs of work and provide a decent life for women to make them empowered and pioneering in all areas of development and to achieve the best quality of life for them,” Al Darmaki added.
This strategy, she added, has enabled the empowerment of a number of prominent female figures in the UAE and has overcome all odds in their participation in all fields and in all sectors that have been restricted solely to men until recently. “The nation has allowed them to participate in political and military life to become an honourable model for women’s leadership.” Al Darmak’s role models include many Emirati women in various fields where they were pioneers, including the parliamentary field with Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi being speaker of the Federal National Council.
“In the military field pilot fighter Mariam Hassan Al Mansoori, who defied everything and fought to defend the homeland, although women rarely work or exist in this difficult area,” she said. Shama Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of Youth Affairs in the UAE, she said, is another role model as the youngest minister in the world.