Dr Priti Swarup
Muscat: More than three years back, I took a break from my professional life and joined my spouse in another country to spend quality time with him and my 8-year old. I used to have a bundle of emotions regarding starting a life at a completely new place that too without any professional engagement and the handsome regular paycheck that used to be associated with it each month. As things settled down over a period, I started on a journey to explore myself. As luck would have it, I met beautiful people around, made lifelong friends, here in Oman, and re-discovered the unmatched potential of the better half of humanity, the women in Oman.
Half the sky belongs to women. This holds so true for the beautiful and serene land of Oman. Coming 17th October marks the 11th anniversary of Omani Women’s Day which celebrates Omani women’s achievements, efforts and contributions in building and developing the present-day Sultanate and was started under the aegis of Late Sultan Qaboos bin Said.
1990s saw a phase when women across the country were permitted to both nominate and stand as candidates in elections. Owing to this positive shift in ideology, today we see many women holding key positions in the ministries including the Education, Higher Education, and Social Development, which form the backbone of any progressing nation. Today, many leading organizations have women as their head and have been believed to have taken their organizations to newer heights, and bring in a plethora of local, regional and international accolades.
“We are blessed to have a day dedicated for women’s day in Oman thanks to His Majesty and the Government of Oman. Women in Oman pursue careers in various professions and fields with hardly any limitations. We as women for sure will play a great value in contributing to the 2040 vision and the success of the country and its economy”, says Nash’at al Riyami, recipient of the Woman of the Year Award 2020.
Women in Oman possess qualities such as royalty, nobility, power, ambition, extravagance, dignity, grandeur, and pride. The fact that more than 50% students in higher education are women, speaks for the quest of knowledge Omani women have in them. At one hand they represent the nation across many forums, at the same time they leave no stone unturned in preserving their tradition, heritage, and culture.
“Women empowerment is not a new term to our Omani society. Unlike other Gulf nations, my grandmother’s generation always worked side by side with men to generate an extra income that helped in supporting their families. Be it in agriculture or working from home sewing clothes or cooking, many women were the sole providers for their children and made them proud through their hard work and dedication. I consider myself lucky coming from a culture where women and men are equal in rights and responsibilities,” says Rasha al Raisi, Oman based author.
The Oman government lays special emphasis on the issues of women and efforts in enabling women can be witnessed through lower maternal mortality and morbidity rates, better education, and healthy pregnancy. The Omani woman has been an essential contributor to building the Omani society. She is the torch-bearer of continuous development in the Sultanate which is truly achieved by an empowering and supporting Government.
Alena Dique, a cybersecurity specialist and the UNCTAD Youth coordinator of Oman, believes that “The role of Omani women has become a symbol of strength and empowerment in all aspects of social, cultural, economic and political arenas in the Sultanate. The celebration of women’s day in Oman means celebrating cumulative achievements — the evolution of women to business decision makers, the recognition of overall contributions women continue to make to uplift their families and society, the responsibility in representation of youth and a young woman to pave the way for the next set of youth leaders, as well as acknowledging the support men provide, to be able to keep progressing together as a growing nation. The importance of women’s participation in the overall development of Oman towards Vision 2040 is a reality we are all witnessing today through the legacy of late Baba Qaboos and the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik.
Omani women work with passion and perseverance towards betterment of self as well as the society. They have pinnacled in all spheres of life, and also performed their familial duties with dignity and pride, bringing in true renaissance. Not just in Oman, women in Oman are well known in the Arab world as a role model for others who are ambitious and are seeking success in all walks of life.
As rightly said by Oprah Winfrey ‘You get in life what you have the courage to ask for’.