50 years since the renaissance began; women in Oman have reached the status of equal partnership in their contribution towards the development of Oman. Education has been the foundation for the empowerment of women in Oman.
From education to health, leadership to team building process the Omani woman continues to aspire and achieve and has been leaving her mark in volunteerism, environment to human rights and science, engineering, medicine administration, literature as well as art in its various forms from canvas to theatre.Entrepreneurship has become a fertile ground and the young women in Oman have captured the essence of the digital world and have been enterprising in using social media for small businesses. Education has been her core leading to success in the chosen paths.
So what are her challenges and strengths?
The Observer caught up with women who are not just achieving success for themselves but making a difference in others’ lives too.
GHAYA AL BARWANI is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credentialed by the International Coaching Federation (ICF); she is a corporate and business leadership coach and trainer. Ghaya is also the Vice President of ICF Oman Chapter and this is what she has to say when it comes to weakness in women of today: “As women, we are trained and raised to be helpful, supportive and generally not discuss our prowess and strengths. Being powerful and strong is not seen as “valuable assets” in a woman. Yes, I know men in our culture have the same issues, it is acceptable for a man to be assertive; same assertiveness in a woman can come out as “pushy”.
Education and the job that led stood as the pillar for MARIAM AL FAZARY, who is still mourning for her father but is bravely wearing a face of confidence as she continues with her job at a money exchange where she has been working for the last two years. Being the eldest, she has become the leader of the house in earning and shouldering responsibility alongside her mother in looking after her sisters in college and two younger brothers in school along with one more sister in school.
“I believe in being confident especially in front of my siblings so they move forward successfully. Education is the most important aspect in life. My father taught me that and I want to pass it on to my younger siblings. My parents have always wished me the best and they made sure I have the confidence to face the world. Today there are times when I feel the pressure of the responsibility, without my father around, but I have to be strong for my mother and siblings. When I do not feel good, they are not happy, they become nervous and miss my father unbearably. I should become responsible. I tell my brothers and sisters to focus in school and college because education is their future. It made me independent,” said Mariam.
She says she has learnt a lot from her father and one of them was reading books.
“He had immense knowledge in various areas and he would sit with us and discuss them. He also taught me, ‘before you do anything think about it.’ He would advise constantly on focusing on work and not to incur mistakes. He would spend a lot of time interacting with us and now I do all that with my family. He had a passion for people and I am picking on that skill because it is important in my job. Before I go to sleep everyday my mother advises me about how to be at work and how to handle people with respect and care, and when customers come seeking my assistance I feel great,” explained Mariam.
NASRA AL ADAWIis an accomplished poet in the country. Nasra did not stop there; she went on to help others use writing as a therapy.
“Poetry has been an escape since childhood. In teen years, it was self expression and the future. In adulthood, poetry helped me in overcoming grief and inner guilt. Now it is for everyone to enhance emotional and mental wellness,” said Nasra.
She reflected, “In 2002, as a poet I thought poetry is to be appreciated by others. Then in 2019, I found poetry changes people’s life, through inspiring them to write by themselves, to enable them to pour their internal voices into reflections and understanding oneself. So we bring to the community healing pen, to equip individuals with writing tools in order for them to increase their emotional resilience.”
AMMA AL SHARJI is a horse rider and her ability to ride, communicate with a being larger and stronger than her has had an impact. She has participated in many shows and competitions and is now aiming at international events to compete.
“It has a profound impact on the personality in terms of emotional connection rather than physical strength,” said Amma. She spends about two to three hours every day practicing horse riding.
Ask her about women empowerment and this is what she has to say, “Empowerment of a woman is giving her all her rights in different ways and making her voice matter in the society. Most importantly evaluate or judge her according to her skills and not gender. So in terms of job opportunity, upgrades, educational opportunities — she should be judged according to her skills, capabilities and accomplishments and not by her gender.”
Amna’s role model has been her mother who also happened to be her first coach. “She continues to coach many and she is an internationally certified judge. She started riding and she taught me and my siblings riding as well and slowly we developed the passion for horses and horse riding and the entire industry.” The passion has also turned out to be her career.
Horse riding has had an impact on her outlook, “Horse riding has taught me how to be patient and persistent. Most importantly horse riding teaches you how to be humble. All this criterion are in me.”