Sharjah: H.H. Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union (GWU), Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, yesterday received the first edition of the ?Jawaher Medal of Honour’ from H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs.
The prestigious accolade was awarded in recognition of Sheikha Fatima’s tremendous efforts and contributions to social and humanitarian issues, including her commitment to women’s empowerment, childhood care and family welfare, both in the UAE and across the globe. The honouring ceremony took place at Al Badea Palace in Sharjah in the presence of a number of female ministers, women’s leaders, members of the Federal National Council, prominent figures and heads of social and humanitarian organisations dedicated to women and children in the UAE.
Commenting on the award, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, said; “The Jawaher Medal of Honour is a gift to every Emirati woman who contributes to the development of her society and to sustaining the country’s glory and excellence. This important approach that engages women in the nation’s development and progress was pioneered by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may God bless his soul, and continued by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.”
Sheikha Fatima lauded the UAE’s wise leadership’s appointment of eight women in the recent Cabinet, with a number of women now holding sovereign ministerial portfolios. Her Highness also outlined her belief in the virtues and importance of sacrificing one’s time and efforts for worthy causes.
“The ability to give selflessly is an aspect of life that reflects the essential essence of humanity. The future will never be bright unless we unleash women’s full capabilities and invest in their potential. In doing so, it is our duty to ensure the right conditions that will allow for family development and the protection for its members. We can look forward to a promising tomorrow if we truly appreciate human values and offer help to those in need, especially the victims of wars and natural disasters. I pay tribute to the selfless endeavours of all those who work to alleviate pressing global humanitarian issues and I thank Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi for this recognition that I appreciate it greatly,” Her Highness Sheikha Fatima added.
Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi, said; “I congratulate the Mother of the Nation, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, on being awarded the prestigious Jawaher Medal of Honour. It gives me great pleasure that Her Highness is the first to be bestowed with this unique medal, which has been given to her in appreciation of Her Highness’ distinguished personality and her generous efforts towards worthy causes. Her Highness Sheikha Fatima has carved her name in the humanitarian field through her extensive contributions, which have marked her out as a role model for Emirati, Arab and women worldwide.”
She highlighted Her Highness Sheikha Fatima’s belief in Emirati women and her support for their empowerment, which she facilitates by providing supportive legislation and ensuring appropriate conditions for their development. Her Highness said that Sheikha Fatima’s encouragement of women to pursue education and work, while also nurturing happy family lives, made the UAE a leading country in providing equal opportunities for women. This allows them to participate in public life and to create milestones that place the UAE among the world’s top countries.
Sheikha Jawaher also praised Sheikha Fatima’s contribution to development and the promotion of peace in fraternal and friendly states.
During the ceremony, Sheikha Fatima received greetings and well-wishes from official figures and women leaders who were present, this was followed by a lunch banquet held in Her Highness’ honour at Al Badea Palace.
A documentary film was shown during the honoring ceremony that featured Sheikha Fatima’s history of humanitarian and charitable work. The occasion also drew attention to the sixth edition of the ?Pink Caravan Ride,’ a pan-UAE awareness initiative organised by the Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP), under the support and patronage of H.H. Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi. The Pink Caravan Ride is currently embarking on a 10-day journey across the UAE, which will be concluded on Thursday. The activity has the important aim of raising awareness about breast cancer and offering free examinations to both Emirati and residents men and women in the UAE.
Sheikha Fatima’s honour coincides with the 11th anniversary of her being named ?The Mother of the Nation,’ an event that took place on March 21, 2005. The special occasion was held by the people of the UAE in appreciation of her significant efforts in supporting the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s nation-building. Sheikha Fatima was deemed to be instrumental in strengthening the achievements of the country in many areas, notably education, women’s empowerment, family stability and children’s care and protection. She was recognised as having improved people’s lives and stood by friendly nations in times of distress and hardship resulting from political unrest or natural disasters.
Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak has a rich portfolio of major milestones and initiatives that have made her a pioneering icon for women’s and humanitarian work in the UAE. She has led the way in supporting women’s empowerment and rights, thereby advancing their status. Sheikha Fatima’s tireless work is characterised by establishing associations, implementing initiatives and launching awards programmes that achieve a balance between modernity and the preservation of Islamic teachings and authentic Arab traditions.
In 1973, Sheikha Fatima established the Abu Dhabi Women Development Association as the first women’s society in the country. This was followed by the General Women’s Union in August 1975, after which Emirati women embraced a new approach under the support of the Federal Government. More societies were subsequently established in other emirates.
Sheikha Fatima then gave her backing to several local, Arab and international women’s associations and organisations, including the Family Development Foundation and the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood. Sheikha Fatima played a significant role in establishing the Arab Women Organisation and the Fund for Refugee Women in collaboration with the UN High Commission for Refugees.
The Mother of the Nation has launched many initiatives and projects to empower women over the years, most notably, the launch of the Women Literacy and Education Strategy in the UAE in 1975. Her Highness has patronised the productive Families Festival since 1997 and launched the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Award for Ideal Family in 1997. In 2002, Her Highness launched the National Strategy for the Advancement of Women in cooperation with The UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).
Sheikha Fatima patronised the scheme for enhancing the role of Arab Women Parliamentarians in conjunction with UNIFEM in 2006-2008 and the Network for Arab Women in Diaspora and the Media Strategy for Arab women in 2008. She has funded relief projects, such as the welfare of Palestinian orphans and children in Lebanon and supported many charitable and humanitarian organisations across the Arab world.
Sheikha Fatima has participated in and provided support for many local, regional and international conferences and forums. Among these are the International Women Conference, Mexico (1975), the Childhood Conference, Tunisia (1979), the 3rd Regional Conference on Women in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula, Kuwait (1981), the Arab-Gulf States Seminar for Women on Population and the Family, Abu Dhabi (1986), the 11th Conference of Arab Girl Guides, Abu Dhabi (1988), a project on ?Compiling Women Heritage in the UAE’ (1991) and the Women and Development Regional Conference, Tunisia (1993).
Other significant events Sheikha Fatima has participated in include the International Conference on Population and Development, Cairo (1994), the 5th International Conference on Adult Education, Germany (1997), the Business Women Summit in the Middle East and North Africa, Abu Dhabi (2006), the International Ageing Conference, Abu Dhabi (2008), the 30th Arab Children International Conference, Jordan (2010), the National Contest for the Emirates’ Skills, Abu Dhabi (2011 and 2012) and the Abu Dhabi International Conference for Women’s Sports (2012).
Sheikha Fatima has received more than 500 local, regional and international medals and awards in recognition of her outstanding efforts in various fields, with their emphasis being on recognising the support and empowerment of women and charitable, humanitarian, cultural and social activities. Her Highness has accrued an array of accolades for her service from international and regional organisations, most notably the United Nations, the International Family Organisation, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Union of Family Organisations, the Arab Organisation for Education, Culture and Science, the Arab Family Foundation, the General Union for Arab producers, and many, many more.
Earlier this month, Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi launched the Jawaher Medal of Honour to pay tribute to those who have either contributed to humanitarian issues affecting people worldwide or who have played a constructive role in building, nurturing and developing society. The launch of the medal is part of Sheikha Jawaher’s continuous striving to improve people’s living conditions and to mobilise global efforts to support urgent issues; such as poverty, education, child protection, women empowerment, refugee crisis and the prevention of non-communicable diseases. These, and many other issues, are addressed irrespective of nationality, race, religion and ideological background.