Meet the Khaleeji Women

Sheikha Lubna Al-Qasimi

Sheikha Lubna and Bill GatesIn November 2004, Sheikha Lubna Khalid Sultan al Qasimi became the first woman in the history of United Arab Emirates (UAE) to be appointed in a cabinet position as Minister of Economy and Planning. Sheikha Lubna graduated from the California State University with a BS degree in Computer Science and received an Executive MBA from the American University of Sharjah. I admire her not only because of her successful careers but also because she is one of few inspiring women whose jobs related to Information Technology!

This is what she has to say about working with men / in a men-majority work environment:

I have to pay extra attention to demonstrate to them where I come from… that I am not there to fight their egos. I am there to create a future for them and let them carry on their path and forget about me.

It’s not their fault. It’s the way they have been raised. I would have been extremely narrow-minded if I was out there to correct them. Then it’s my ego. You can’t blame them for it.

I know where their distrust comes from. It is lack of knowledge. They don’t know. You have to give them the time to trust you. You have to deliver before you demand their acceptance. You have to have the patience. You have to have the discipline. WomenOne.org

Sheikha Lubna is a member of the Sharjah branch of the family and the niece to Sheikh Sultan Khalid bin Mohammed Al Qasimi who was a ruler of Sharjah from 1965 until his assassination in 1971.

Prior to becoming a minister, she worked in several companies as a programmer and senior manager of the information system department. In 2000, she was appointed by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum as Chief Executive Officer of Tejari, the Middle East’s premier electronic business-to-business marketplace. She is now serving as a board member of Tejari and several other organisations.

Sheikha Mozah Al-Missned

Emir & Sheikha at Asian Games Doha 2006If you saw the spectacular opening ceremony of Asian Games 2006 in Doha several weeks ago, you’d notice a woman sitting on the left side of Qatari Emir. Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned is the second wife (out of 3) of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, the current Emir of Qatar. She graduated from the University of Qatar in 1986 with a BA in Sociology and has been awarded honorary doctorates from Virginia Commonwealth and Texas A&M.

Sheikha Mozah has been actively involved in education and social reforms in Qatar. She is a chairperson of non-profit institution Qatar Foundation which funded an 800 hectares Education City, Qatar in 2003. The city is home to branch campuses of several American universities, local universities, schools, and research organisations.

many faces of Sheikha MozahAs a result of her works to improve Qatari education, in 2003, the UNESCO appointed Her Highness special envoy for Basic and Higher Education. She also serves as president of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs which aims at strengthening the role of the family in society. In 2005, Sheikha Mozah was nominated as a member of the United Nations High-Level Group of the Alliance of Civilisations for fighting terrorism.

She is seen as a role model for many Qatari women and she encourages them to participate in public life. She is another representative of Muslim women known for her social and educational efforts. I like the way she dresses, so humble and modest.

Sheikha Haya Al-Khalifa

Sheikha Haya Al-KhalifaSheikha Haya Rashed Al-Khalifa is one of the first two women to practice law in her country, Bahrain. Holding a law degree from the University of Kuwait, she became a lawyer in 1979 and founded Haya Rashed Al Khalifa Law Firm. She made headlines when she was elected President of the 61st United Nation General Assembly on 8 June 2006. She is the first Arab woman to assume the position and only the third woman ever to hold the position since 1969.

From 1997 to 1999, Sheikha Haya was the vice-chairwoman of International Bar Association, an international professional body of lawyers. Again, she was the first Middle Eastern woman to serve this role. She became Bahrain’s ambassador to France from 2000 to 2004. She has been actively involved in women’s rights, particularly “in the movement to elevate the position of women in Bahrain before the Islamic sharia courts” [United Nation]. She speaks Arabic, English, and French.

According to Wikipedia, Sheikha Haya is a member of the ruling Al Khalifa family of Bahrain and the great-granddaughter of Isa ibn Ali Al Khalifa, who ruled Bahrain from 1869 to 1932.

Others

There are many Khaleeji women who became the leader in their countries and take an active role in women rights. These women include Nada Haffadh, Bahrain’s first female cabinet minister (Minister of Health); Lulwa Al Awadhi, a women right’s advocate; and Massouma al-Mubarak, a political science professor and the first Kuwaiti female minister.

A question to ask: When will Saudi society appoint the first woman leader??? It looks like they still have a looong way to go. Just recently, Dr. Yousef Al-Ahmed, a presenter from King Saud University at an international medical seminar, insisted that ALL women leave the room before he would enter the room to give his presentation. If thousands of stupid men like Yousef exist in Saudi Arabia, then this nation needs a brave and hardworking woman to break the rule!

* Khaleeji is related to the culture or people of Arab Gulf states which include Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. These countries, usually referred as GCC, share similar Arab accent/dialect, culture, and music.

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13 Responses

  • Wah kata-kata dari Sheikha Lubna bagus banget. Dia ga menyalahkan orang, dia memahami kekurangan orang.

  • khaleeji itu apa mel? btw… kayaknya topiknya yang diangkat genderitas nih… huehehe…
    jadi susah mo comment :p
    tapi kalo baca postingan amel kali ini, memang bener mereka2 itu unordinary women,… they’re all superb 🙂

  • iye, bagus, gak complainer, gak negatif. kadang gue berusaha gt, tapi suka gak sabaran, kebabblasan nyalah2in orang juga akhirnya.

    mel, postingan lo baru kali ini lagi gue angkat bicara. sebelom2nya speechless

    hehehe

  • wah ternyata di timur-tengah banyak perempuan di pemerintahan ya, kecuali di saudi =), saudi masih harus banyak belajar sama jiran-jirannya tentang pemberdayaan perempuan.

    FYI di indonesia sekarang ada 4 perempuan di kabinet, Mari Elka Pangestu dan Sri Mulyani malah menduduki pos penting, menteri perdagangan dan menteri keuangan, di parlemen lebih banyak lagi harusnya.

    katanya raja saudi yang sekarang mulai memperhatikan perempuan mel? berarti nggak akan lama lagi, mungkin pas kamu lulus master? ^^

  • itu kata2nya bagus banget. dalem artinya …

  • ikram

    Menurut saya, ketika kita menginginkan penyetaraan kesempatan antara gender, tidak sepatutnya lagi berbicara “perempuan” atau “laki-laki”. Bisa nggak ada ujungnya.

    Menghitung jumlah menteri berjenis kelamin perempuan di kabinet mungkin penting, tapi tidakkah lebih penting untuk menghitung jumlah menteri yang benar2 memikirkan rakyat?

    😛

  • @ikram: dulu gue juga mikir gitu ram, tapi setelah gue mencari dan berpikir tentang alasan kenapa feminist dan gender fighter senang sekali mengangkat masalah perempuan, gue jadi ngerti.

    pasalnya adalah, over centuries (bukan years lagi neh, centuries, giling!), perempuan selalu dijadikan alasan untuk tidak mendapat posisi ttt, tidak mendapat perlakukan ttt, tidak menjadi sesuatu yang bisa dicapai kalau jenis kelaminnya laki laki.Just because we are perempuan.

    behaviour ini, sudah begitu mendarah dagingnya dalam each individual dan tentu saja akan diturunkan ke generasi selanjutnya oleh tiap individu itu.
    istilahnya sandal jepit yang sama sama jalan ke satu tujuan, harusnya perempuan dan laki laki saling melengkapi, saling isi, kaya sandal jepit kiri dan kanan, kadang kanan di depan, kadang kiri didepan, atau kadang sama sama loncat. tapi ini malahan, sandal jepit kiri jalan sendiri udah didepan sana entah kemana. sedang sandal jepit kanan masih jauh ketinggalan di belakang.
    kalau equality mau dicapai, maka bukan dengan equality antara perempuan dan laki laki yang harus dari dilakukan sekarang, karena sandal jepit kiri (laki laki) udah jauh di depan, sandal jepit kanan masih di belakang. kalo jalannya sama sama satu langkah, tetep aja sandal jepit kanan (perempuan) ketinggalan di belakang. jadi, sebagai konsekwensi, sandal jepit kanan (perempuan), musti ditarik, didorong, dibikin jalan lebih cepat daripada sandal jepit kiri supaya bisa satu posisi dan dunia bisa jalan dengan seimbang lagi. nggak timpang karena yang kiri jalan duluan didepan.

    so, kalo suatu saat kesempatan menjadi mentri udah bener2 equal antara perempuan dan laki laki (termasuk kesempatan mendapat pendidikan, nutrisi, dll untuk mencapai capability menjadi mentri), maka boleh deh tuh kita apus omongan gender dan mengistimewakan perempuan. karena by that time, posisi laki dan perempuan udah bener bener equal.

    sekarang? too early for the real equality, we have to open more opportunity for women to reach betterment. because honestly, we are so left behind.

  • @ikram : sorry, you are right, menghitung jumlah menteri yang memikirkan rakyat memang lebih baik penting, aku cuma info aja, sebagai perbandingan situasi di indo seperti apa =), terima kasih koreksinya

  • Mulia dan Bintangjatuh, terimakasih atas penjelasannya. Oya salam kenal 😛

    Masalahnya adalah (CMIIW) gerakan feminisme belakangan ini seolah-olah berusaha supaya perempuan mendominasi dunia, mengalahkan laki-laki. Saya khawatir kelak jika tujuan ini tercapai, giliran kaum laki-laki yang akan berusaha mendominasi balik (mungkin akan ada gerakan “maskulinisme”?).

    Nah, kalau demikian, maka debat ini nggak akan selesai-selesai. Terus-terusan aja berebut dominasi.

    Saya cuma pengen, kita mendahulukan kompetensi di atas segalanya – seks, jender, ras, dsb – saat kita membicarakan jabatan publik.

    Akan lebih penting mendaftar jumlah menteri yang betul2 bekerja, ketimbang sekedar mendaftar jumlah menteri berdasarkan jenis kelaminnya.

    Soalnya, urusan kabinet adalah urusan pelayanan publik – bukan semacam piala yang diperebutkan kaum laki-laki dan perempuan.

    Itu saja dulu. Selebihnya, saya nggak bisa lebih sepakat lagi dengan kalian berdua. Juga Amel 😛

  • amellie

    Perempuan mendominasi dunia??? Jujur aja, gw gak mao ampe segitu ‘gilanya’ :P. Wanita tuh apalagi yang udah nikah yah.. punya banyak kewajiban.. suami lah, anak lah, dsb. Jadi gw rasa, gak perlu lah wanita ampe mendominasi dunia. Buat gw pribadi yah, I’m quite happy with the position of Indo women right now (gw ga tau deh kalo di kampung2, tapi di Jakarta iya…). At least qta punya kebebasan untuk memilih.. mo kerja kek, mo jadi ibu rumah tangga kek, dsb.

    But that doesn’t happen in Saudi Arabia. Kayanya gw udah capek, udah 10 tahun lebih gw tinggal disana (dan ortu gw tinggal udah 20 thn), sepertinya gak ada perubahan juga (well, dikit sekali). Ngelarang wanita untuk kerja (apalagi yang belom nikah ni!!!) buat gw udah sangat keterlaluan (dan satu lagi, nyetir hehehe). Pilihan yang mereka punya semuanya diatur oleh kepala keluarga. Makanya gw seneng banget, ternyata negara2 tetangga Saudi udah agak menerima kedudukan wanita… walopun masih agak lambat, tapi it’s improving. Dgn menunjuk seorang wanita menjadi menteri, persepsi en pikiran sempit org2 bahwa wanita tu gak bisa kerja di posisi yang penting lama2 bakal ilang. OK, gak perlu lah jadi menteri kalo emang itu terlalu ‘jauh’ misalnya.. Liat dari ‘keaktifan’ istri2 pemimpin negara deh… Di Saudi, cuma Ratu Effat satu2nya istri raja yang aktif.. itupun terjadi puluhan tahun yang lalu. Beliau dulu membangun sekolah khusus untuk cewek untuk pertama kalinya. Tapi gw bisa ngerti knp cuma beliau yang aktif, krn suaminya Raja Faisal adalah seorang reformist… Sekarang, dimasa pimpinan Raja Abdullah yang juga seorang reformist, walaupun istrinya gak pernah kedengeran keberadaannya, anaknya –kalau gak salah namanya Princess Adela– turut aktif dalam memperbaiki kedudukan wanita di Saudi. Lima sampe sepuluh tahun yang lalu, gw gak pernah denger cewek kerja di suatu perusahaan/institusi (kecuali dokter, guru, suster, pembantu). Sekarang udah mulai banyak, which is really great. Media aja dulu jarang sekali memberitakan ttg wanita. Sekarang udah menjamur… dan itu bukan satu hal yang taboo lagi (ini juga keterlaluan… wanita=taboo? blah).

    kayanya gw jadi ngelantur nih hahaha… ya pokoknya masalah ini kayanya gak cocok dgn indo deh, soalnya indo udah lebih maju dibanding negara arab mengenai hal ini.

    “Akan lebih penting mendaftar jumlah menteri yang betul2 bekerja, ketimbang sekedar mendaftar jumlah menteri berdasarkan jenis kelaminnya.” kalo loe menerapkan ini di Saudi, ya gak akan maju2 :P. We’ll end up locked in our home! Seperti kata Mulia, masalahnya qta gak punya kesempatan…! Kesempatan itu gak terbuka untuk semua wanita. Gw cuma pengen EQUAL OPPORTUNITY. itu aja. Masalah siapa yang bisa jadi leader (ini bisa jadi menteri, CEO, dsb), tergantung pada gimana kerasnya mereka berusaha en kerja. Contohnya ya wanita2 diatas itu.

  • ngomong2 di saudi perempuan2 tuh boleh e-business gk sih? ato kyk working @ home thru the internet gitu? (random bngt ya pertanyaannya). abis kan katanya perempuan2 gk blh kerja n cm di rumah doang. klo e-business pun gk boleh kebangetan banget ya!

  • amellie

    Dessy: ralat, gak semua perempuan gak dibolehin kerja :).

    e-business?? well, soal technology, saudi masih agak ketinggalan. jumlah perempuan yang punya bisnis aja masih dikit banget. apalagi e-business… knowing that mereka musti belajar en menekuni bidang computer business. and one thing for sure is.. pendidikan di saudi masih sangat rendah. anak2 cowo mereka kebanyakan dikirim ke luar negeri untuk belajar. sedangkan byk anak2 cewe mereka yang hanya boleh belajar di universitas lokal. jd bykan cewe cuma punya modal SMA… they have little experience on computer, let alone e-business…

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