Dubai /Â WAM
His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, attended on Monday the official opening of the United Nations Secretary-Generalâ€™s High Level Panel â€˜HLPâ€™ meeting on Womenâ€™s Economic Empowerment at the Four Seasons Resort, Dubai.
Convening for the first time in MENA region, the High Level Panel meeting attracted a host of senior officials, representatives from international organisations and civil society in addition to international organisations concerned with womenâ€™s economic empowerment.
During the opening session, President of Costa Rica and Co-Chair of the Panel, Luis Guillermo Solis delivered a keynote speech via video conference. President Solis spoke about being invited to join the High Level Panel on Womenâ€™s Economic Empowerment by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as this important topic was at the centre of the global discussions on the sustainable development objectives.
He said that this effort has successfully led to a gathering of an extraordinary group of women from all over the world who have been driving gender issues to the top of the agenda, particularly from the perspective of economic empowerment.
Solis added that, for many years, we have been striving to deal with the political weaknesses that the world had provided women, but we have neglected the economic part of this agenda and this is the key for the discussions that are being held in Dubai.
President Solis said, “I would like to congratulate Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance for taking a leadership role in organising this meeting which gave us the opportunity to be in Dubai”.
Solis called participants to champion this opportunity and find ways to support womenâ€™s economic empowerment. Concluding his speech, President Solis also called participants to encourage their governments to take part in the High Level Panel meeting on Womenâ€™s Economic Empowerment as it is an issue to global importance.
In her speech during the opening session, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi affirmed that womenâ€™s empowerment is a top priority in the UAEâ€™s agenda. She added that the leadership and government of the UAE are committed to empowering women as stated in the UAE Strategic Plan. She noted that gender balance is part of UAE Vision 2021 that aims to protect women from all forms of discrimination and biases.
Sheikha Lubna expressed appreciation and gratitude to Mother of the Nation, H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, for launching the National Strategy for Empowerment of Emirati Women 2015-2021.
The strategy aims to provide a general framework for all federal and local government, private sector, as well as civil society organisations, to set work plans and programmes so as to provide a decent living for women and make them creative in all sustainable and developmental fields.
Sheikha Lubna also highlighted the support and follow-up of H.H. Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, and her efforts to activate the Gender Inequality Index.
She also demonstrated the cooperation between the UAE and the United Nations, and the election of the UAE as member in the UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, for two terms (2013-2015) and (2016-2018).
Sheikha Lubna said the UAE contributions to UN Women amounted to US$ 12 million and the UAE Government supported the establishment of the UN Womenâ€™s office in Abu Dhabi to liaise with GCC countries. She also referred to the UAEâ€™s efforts to support, empower and enable women, both locally and internationally.
On behalf of President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed, Vice President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, Mona Al Marri delivered a speech, welcoming the meeting in Dubai. Al Marri explained that the meeting is a result of a successful cooperation between the UAE Gender Balance Council and the High Level Panel on Womenâ€™s Economic Empowerment.
She said Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has assigned the Council to activate the UNDPâ€™s Gender Inequality Index, aiming to have the UAE listed amongst the best and top 25 countries worldwide by 2021, with a view to improve the gender equality.
Al Marri also demonstrated the role of the UAE Gender Balance Council, and how it was established and its initiatives. She said the Council is a new institutional platform that supports women empowerment in the public and private sectors, collaborating with both sectors to define the opportunities that expand womenâ€™s participation and engagement in all aspects of work. She also highlighted the successes of Emirati women in business and entrepreneurship.
In her speech, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo thanked the participants for joining the Secretary-Generalâ€™s High-Level Panel on Womenâ€™s Economic Empowerment.
She said, “The United Arab Emirates has proven itself to be an exceptional partner to UN Women. It has been able to establish itself as a leader in the region on multiple fronts, especially in advancing gender equality and womenâ€™s empowerment. Our partnership with the UAE has been underpinned and guided by the visionary leadership of the UAE and specifically H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak. She has been critical in establishing deep ties between the UAE and UN Women and the establishment of the UN Women GCC Liaison Office in Abu Dhabi that was inaugurated last October, with the stewardship of Noura Al Suwaidi. Our Liaison Office is committed to working with the UAE and the region to advance gender equality and secure gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda”.
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations added, “I also recognise H.H. Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, and President of Dubai Women Establishment (DWE). She is stewarding our common goal to ensure that women and girls can live lives of equality and dignity. We look forward to working together on womenâ€™s economic empowerment, implementing the SDGs, and mobilising men and boys to be part of the global movement towards gender equality”.
Phumzile Mlambo concluded, “I thank also Sheikha Lubna and the Gender Balance Council, under the guidance of its Vice President, Mona Al Marri, for hosting these penultimate deliberations before we present the Panelâ€™s final report to the UN Secretary-General next month”.