The transformation that is taking place in the State of Qatar cannot be discussed without highlighting the crucial role of Qatari women.
Side-by-side with their fellow men, Qatari women have took on a leading role in the country’s economic, political, social, and sports transformations that realize Qatar National Vision 2030’s goal of building a future that relies on all of its society’s capabilities.
Qatari women, throughout history, played an important role in society. The economic conditions of many Qatari families’ pre-oil required women to carry out many roles, particularly during the diving season.
Nowadays Qatari women are playing a significant role in the country’s development, backed by the political leadership and fully supported by society, without having to forego her Arab and Islamic identity and principles.
Qatar’s permanent constitution came to confirm women’s crucial role and to enhance their rights.
It stressed on the principle of equality between all citizens in their rights and duties. It also prevented discrimination based on gender and focused on equal opportunity for all in terms of enjoying services and participating in all fields.
There were also a number of policies, legislation, and national strategies were adopted to empower women and to provide her with the opportunity to actively participate in the development process.
Qatari legislation prevents discrimination against women in the job market, whether in the public or private sector. Women are also paid equal wages to men who work the same job. They also get equal training and promotion opportunities. The human resources law also award men and women equal opportunities in gaining promotions and occupying leadership positions.
Qatar National Vision 2030 reflected these constitutional principles by stressing on the importance of enhancing women’s role in society, particularly through participation in the economic and political fields. The vision also stressed that the aspired societal development means providing equal education and work opportunities to all citizens regardless of their backgrounds or gender.
One of the hallmarks of the country’s leadership in that regard was the role of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser in enhancing women’s role, making Her Highness a role model for Qatari women and women around the world.
The local, regional, and international projects launched by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, particularly in the education and societal development fields, will continue to be a source of pride for Arab women and women around the world.
There is also no doubt that the high-quality education system established in Qatar over the past two decades helped build the capabilities of Qatari men and women. Qatar’s education system is ranked top among Arab countries and fourth in the world according to the report of the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2017.
This helped women play a big role in the country’s modernization and development push.
The country also managed unprecedented success in the region after it was able to close the gender gap in terms of enrollment in different stages of education, as noted in the Report issued by the World Economic Forum in Davos. In fact, female enrollment rates in higher education in Qatar are consistently favoring women, according to various official statistics.
One example can be seen in Qatar University; where around 70 percent of the 2016-2017 academic year’s graduates were women. They also graduated from a host of schools such as engineering, medicine, law, economy, literature, and others. Enrollment rates at the Education City of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development also tend to favor women.
This trend saw the percentage of women in the workplace reach about 37 percent in 25-29 years age group. That percentage rises to 49 percent in the 30-34 age groups, data from the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics for the year 2017 showed. Women also had a majority of jobs in the education, health, and social work fields.
As for encouraging women to seek leadership positions, official statistical reports indicated that the representation of Qatari women in decision-making positions is currently 30 percent. Qatar National Vision 2030 and population policy 2017-2022 aim to raise this percentage while increasing the political representation of Qatari women as well.
In fact, the State of Qatar is the first Gulf country to appoint women as a minister back in 2003, following the appointment of Her Highness Sheikha Al-Mahmoud as Minister of Education. A host of women ministers followed like in 2008 with the appointment of a Minister of Health. The year 2013 saw also the appointment of a Minister of Communications and Information Technology.
The latest cabinet also has Dr. Hanan Al-Kuwari as the Minister of Public Health, in addition to a number of women Deputy Ministers. Women also occupy leading roles in a number of important state institutions. Qatar Foundation for instance is chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. The foundation oversees a number of prestigious international universities, as well as research centers that led the country’s knowledge economy push.
Qatari women also lead other important institutions such as the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA), the Qatar Social Work Foundation, Doha Film Institute, Hamad Medical Corporation, Primary Health Care Corporation, National Commission for Education, Culture and Science as well as other institutions.
At the international level, Qatari women have been able to strengthen their presence in various international forums. Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser has emerged as one of the most influential figures in the world through her regional and international initiatives such as Silatech, and Education Above All that is concerned with providing education in poor and conflict-stricken areas.
Her Highness also plays an active role in international organizations, especially in the field of supporting education globally, strengthening the Alliance of Civilizations and defending the goals of sustainable development.
Qatari women have also made a number of achievements at the international level. In this context, Her Excellency Sheikha Hessa bint Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Thani was the first woman in the world to become Special Rapporteur for Disability at the United Nations back in 2003. Her Excellency is currently the Secretary General of the League of Arab States Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs.
Qatari women have also been members of a number of UN committees including the Committee on Rights of the Child, the Committee on elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Committee on Persons with Disabilities.
As for diplomatic work, the Qatari woman affirmed her success and ability to serve the country in various international forums, thus confirming the legitimacy of her right to represent the State of Qatar abroad.
In recognition of this role, HE Sheikha Alya Ahmed Bin Saif Al-Thani was appointed as the first Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva and Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
This year also saw a ministerial decree appointing Her Excellency Lulwa Rashid Al-Khater as an official spokesperson for the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to become the first Qatari woman appointed to the post.
According to statistics from the Foreign Ministry, the number of Qatari women in the diplomatic corps reached 22, whereas 10 years ago it was only 3.
Her Excellency Sheikha Alya Ahmed Bin Saif Al-Thani told Qatar News Agency (QNA) that Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser was a bright example for women’s diplomatic work, as it encouraged Qatari women to enter the field and represent the country in international events.
Her Excellency said that Qatari women are proud their success in the diplomatic field, evident by UN members and the Secretary-General choosing her to follow up on the development of UN institutions, which reflects the special status of the State of Qatar.
Her Excellency added she feels proud due to the respect and trust she feels the world has in the leadership and people of the State of Qatar. Her Excellency added that such a trust puts more responsibility on the shoulders of the country’s diplomats.
In November 2017, Qatari women entered the Advisory Council for the first time ever after an Amiri decree was issued appointing 28 new members, including four women.
Vice President of Administration and Finance at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies Dr. Hend Al Muftah told QNA that the country’s wise leadership took an important step in enhancing the participation of women in politics, and her inclusion in the decision-making process as a result. She added that the appointment of four women to the council was an historic moment.
That step also affirms that the State of Qatar has made significant progress in promoting women’s leadership and participation in decision-making in recent decades and granting them the right to vote and stand for election.
The elections of the Central Municipal Council, which took place for the first time in 1999, were the first real political entitlement for Qatari women candidates and voters, after the law guaranteed them. Two women currently hold two seats in this council.
In the business community, Qatari women have made significant strides in this area after they made investments in all sectors economy. The initiatives launched by the State and the policies adopted by it have contributed greatly to women’s presence in this important area.
Qatar Chamber board member Ibtihaj Al-Ahmadani told QNA that the great support by the country’s wise leadership which helped women lead in many fields. She added that the support also helped women carryout their role in the development process.
She pointed out that Qatari women have entered the business world and have achieved great success. She added that the past period witnessed intensive women’s activities in all sectors of the economy, entering into new fields and expanding their existing businesses.
Al-Ahmadani said that the amount of investments of Qatari businesswomen is between QR20 and 25 billion in the local market, in addition to the volume of investments in the stock market, real estate activities, tourism and others.
She also affirmed that women have reached an unprecedented achievement in the household industry sector. The role of Qatar Chamber is to adopt and support productive families by promoting their products and allowing them to participate in exhibitions organized by the Chamber both in Qatar and abroad.
Qatari women’s gains were not confined to a particular sector, but included other vital sectors that were exclusive to men in the past such as the judiciary where women held important posts. Maryam Abdullah Al Jaber was appointed first prosecutor in 2003, the first women to assume the post in the region.
In the sports field, Qatari women have witnessed a remarkable rise in terms of their rates of participation and their ability to compete strongly in some games locally, regionally and internationally, especially after the formation of a special committee for Qatari women’s sport in 2000, which played an important role in encouraging women to engage with the field.
Qatar participated for the first time with a women’s delegation in the London Olympics in 2012 and carried the flag of Qatar in those games.
One of the most recent achievements of Qatari women, most notably in this regard, is the crowning of Qatar’s women in the fifth edition of the Gulf women’s games in 2017, in which 891 players representing four Gulf countries participated.
The Qatari team was crowned as champions of the West Asian Women’s Handball Championship in 2016. The national team for women’s rugby made an historic achievement by winning the first West Asian Championship held in Lebanon this year in their first ever participation.
This quick look at Qatari women’s achievements over the past years gives important indications that the wise leadership’s bet on the role of women in development alongside men is a bet on the future.
It is also a guarantee for achieving the National Vision 2030, which aims to propel Qatar to the ranks of developed countries capable of achieving sustainable development and to ensure the continuity of the decent life of its people generation after generation.
Source: Kuwait News Agency