PN Member Najla Al Awadhi Inaugurates ‘Emirati Women breaking Barriers’ Forum

PN member Najla Al Awadhi, former member of the Federal National Council (FNC), Chief Executive at Dubai Media Incorporated and distinguished media pioneer in the Middle East, inaugurated 'Emirati Women Breaking Barriers' forum which shed the light on first Emirati women in their profession by celebrating their stories and discussing gender, family, and culture barriers.

Tradition and culture should not be a barrier that limits Emirati women and communication is the key tool in changing people’s mind set about certain professions was the message that Emirati women pioneers shared at The Higher Colleges of Technology-Dubai (HCT-Dubai), Women's Campus, in Dubai on May 27, 2013.

The forum was organised by a group of senior students as part of their senior graduation project. "We decided to focus on Emirati women's accomplishments," said Alia Al Sumaiti, one of the student organisers."We want to celebrate their stories and also discuss their challenges."

During the panel titled ‘Which comes first my culture, traditions and family or my career’, speakers discussed the relation between career and traditions and the means to convince parents about the unusual professions.

The students also created a booklet containing the stories of more than 30 Emiratis believed to be the first women in their field, such as Ahlam Al Shamsi, the first pop star, and Khulood Al Dhaheri, the first judge.

Many of the women described the moment when they had to sway their reluctant families. “My mother wanted me to follow in my sister’s footsteps and become a doctor but I wanted to become an aircraft engineer. It was hard convincing my entire family about this career path especially as I had to study abroad to obtain my degree but after sitting with them once, twice and ten times they finally saw that this is what I really want. This is the message that I want to spread today, communication is key, you should sit with your family and have an open conversation.” said Suaad Al Shamsi, the first female Emirati aircraft engineer.

Mariam Al Saffar, the first female Emirati Metro operator, agreed with Suaad regarding the importance of communication with family and also stressed maintaining a balance between career and tradition.

“Emirati families are usually against their daughters following unusual career paths because they fear that it will eventually cause them to have no boundaries when it comes to respecting their culture and religion. Young Emiratis can and should pursue whatever dream they have given that it remains within the boundaries that respect their religion and tradition,” added Mariam.



Vivian Nereim (28.05.2013) "Emirati career women tell how they blazed the trail", The National.

Noor Nazzal (27.05.2013) "Emirati women pioneers talk tradition vs unusual career",

Photo by Najla Al Awadhi.

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