بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Al Nahyan
“Mother of the Nation”
In a public life that spans more than four decades, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Al Nahyan has been a driving force for the full participation of women and the disabled in the economic and civic life of the United Arab Emirates, the region, and the world. Her many accomplishments in the development of human potential at home and abroad have been celebrated and recognized the world over.
Sheikha Fatima was born in Al-Heer, al-Ain city to a Bedouin family, and in the 1960’s married the late H.H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, who became the founder and first President of the United Arab Emirates in 1971.
Regarded by her fellow citizens as the “Mother of the Nation”, Sheikha Fatima’s devotion to social justice and civic engagement has been transformative for the UAE and the broader Arab and Muslim world.
In 1973, she spearheaded the women’s movement in the country, establishing the UAE’s first organization dedicated to promoting the equality and advancement of women. With her guidance and support, a number of new women’s groups merged into the General Women’s Union (GWU) in 1975, which Sheikha Fatima has chaired since its inception.
Her flagship project at GWU has been achieving gender equity in education, particularly improving girl’s enrollment and graduation rates. Today, the UAE is on track to meet all the UN Millennium Development Goals in gender, and according to a report by the World Economic Forum, the UAE has the highest ranking out of 136 countries for the ratio of girls to boys in education.
These improved standards has been transformative for the UAE. As a result, women are increasingly active as leaders. More than 20,000 businesses in the UAE are managed by women. In 2004, Sheikha Fatima pushed for the appointment of the country’s first female Cabinet Minister, H.E. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, who is now Minister of Development and International Cooperation. Today, women occupy key positions across all branches of government, including multiple Ministers, Ambassadors, Judges, and Lawyers. Recognizing the centrality of increasing women’s participation in governance to peace, in 2006 she worked with the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) to launch a major initiative for enhancing the role of Arab women parliamentarians.
In addition to her role as Chairperson of the GWU, Sheikha Fatima serves as Supreme Chairperson of the Family Development Foundation, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Women Development Association, Chairperson of the Coordination Committee for Women Action in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula, Chairperson of the Abu Dhabi Women Club, Founding Member of the Arab Women Organization, Founder and Chairperson of the Family Development Foundation, Honorary Chairperson of the Red Crescent Authority, Honorary Chairperson of the Abu Dhabi Businesswomen Association, Honorary Chairperson of the Abu Dhabi Mothers’ Council of the Abu Dhabi Educational Zone, and Honorary Chairperson of the Shelter Homes for Victims of Human Trafficking, among others. In the UAE, she has also sponsored and launched national initiatives aimed at empowering women including the launch of the Women Literacy and Education Strategy, the National Strategy for the Advancement of Women in cooperation with UNIFEM, and the National Initiatives for mainstreaming Social Gender in the UAE.
Internationally, Sheikha Fatima has focused on marginalized populations, such as women, children, the disabled, and refugees. In 2000, in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), she established the Sheikha Fatima Fund for Refugee Women, which provides resources and support to displaced women and children. She has also established advanced centers for people with disabilities in the West Bank, and launched a series of international initiatives aimed at promoting Arab women in technology, literacy, media, and sport.
She has six sons and two daughters, including H.H General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council), H.H Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region), H.H Sheikh Hazza’ Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (National Security Advisor and Chairman of the National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority), H.H Sheikh Tahnoun Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (Chairman of Amiri Aviation), H.H Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs), H.H Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (Foreign Minister), H.H Sheikha Shamma Bint Zayed Al-Nahyan, and H.H Sheikha Al-Yaziya Bint Zayed Al-Nahyan.
Sheikha Fatima currently continues her wide variety of humanitarian work from her residence in Abu Dhabi.