The Maجlis: How the UAE Remains Committed to Advancing the Role of Women
By H.E. Lana Nusseibeh, Assistant Minister for Political Affairs and Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations
Eight years ago, I left my role as Director of the Policy Planning Department within the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to assume my new post as the UAE Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations. I was humbled by the opportunity to represent my country on the global stage and fortunate to have a resourceful team by my side when I settled into my new role.
As we continue to progress globally towards a world where women and men are equal partners in society, I am proud that the UAE has been named one of our region’s pioneers in gender equality and that our Mission in New York reflects this – both in terms of its demographic composition and its foreign policy priorities.
In 2010, the UAE supported the establishment of UN Women, the UN entity dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide, marking a pivotal moment in our gender championing history. After we were elected to the Executive Board for the first time in 2013, we brought UN Women’s Liaison Office for the GCC to Abu Dhabi under the leadership of the UAE’s first lady Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak and the General Women’s Union (GWU) so that the entity could better deliver its mandate in our region. In 2017, I also had the privilege to serve as President of the Executive Board and to learn firsthand about the impact of UN Women’s programming on the ground.
Drawing on findings from the field, the UAE co-launched the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Women, Peace and Security Initiative with UN Women, the GWU, and the UAE Ministry of Defence in 2018. This initiative aims to strengthen women’s capacities and to increase their participation in military and peacekeeping operations.
The UAE also believes education is key for empowering women and girls. Today, the literacy rate of women in the UAE is 95.8%, and 77% of Emirati women enroll in higher education after secondary school. Closing the gender gap in access to quality education must be a global endeavor as we pursue a more gender equal world. Through our work with Dubai Cares and our collaboration with UNICEF and UNESCO, we hope to reduce this gap.
The UAE remains resolute in its belief that women are critical pillars of our society. That is why advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda will be one of our top priorities when we join the UN Security Council in January 2022.
Despite the progress made for women around the world, work remains to be done. One of our priorities on the Council is to work collectively for climate action and to recognize its disproportionate effects on women and girls. Roughly 80% of people displaced by climate change are women, and responses to climate induced crises must address the intersection of climate and gender.
We remain committed to upholding UN-led action to empower women, and this year, the UAE adopted its first National Action Plan for the implementation of the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000). We also launched the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Women, Peace and Security Centre of Excellence to empower tomorrow’s female leaders in peace and security, which builds off our 2018 initiative with UN Women. On the Security Council, we will continue to promote the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women in all our efforts.
The UAE champions women and girls in our foreign policy and foreign aid strategy, because we believe in the benefits of their leadership and economic integration. Studies show that if women were to participate equally in the global economy it could add 26% to the annual global GDP by 2025. Data also shows that agreements resulting from peace processes with significant women’s participation are 35% more likely to last at least 15 years rather than failing in under five years without their participation.
As we celebrate Emirati Women’s Day this year, we look to women and girls at home and across the world who inspire us through their leadership and actions to achieve positive and meaningful change. My goal is for the UAE to emerge from our Security Council membership as an even stronger, trusted partner for women and girls. Our capable team will work diligently to realize this vision and do our part to achieve a more equitable world for all.