Mr. President of the General Assembly,
Thank you, Mr. President, for championing this platform, and for your commitment to women’s empowerment and gender equality. And thank you, Phumzile, for your steadfast support in defending the rights of women and girls everywhere. Let me begin by offering my thanks for the opportunity to represent the UAE in this critical discussion on achieving ‘Planet 50-50 by 2030’.
Achieving gender parity is an essential element of Agenda 2030 – perhaps the core cross-cutting factor, extending well beyond Goal 5. This month’s sixtieth session CSW offers an opportunity to guide how best to translate the goals into action across the world. While empowering women and achieving gender parity is one select element of the SDGs, women are also a force multiplier for achieving all of the goals and addressing problems long found intractable
The UAE’s implementation strategy for Agenda 2030, globally as well as domestically, aims to be comprehensive and emphasize the interconnectedness of the goals, specifically by using a gender lens to achieve several targets at once.
This approach is rooted in our own experience and I have been asked to share some reflections on how we as a society have leap-frogged over many challenges in a short space of time. Since our nation’s founding, our leadership has made the full and meaningful participation of women in every aspect of our society a bedrock principle, recognizing that women are equal partners in the development of the nation. A key component of the UAE’s development strategy from our founding has been the engagement of women in the workforce – from scientists to fighter pilots – and as decision-makers at the highest levels. I am proud to announce that the UAE cabinet now boasts 8 female ministers – including the 22 year-old Minister of Youth.
The UAE government has also institutionalized women’s participation in our legislature and judiciary with the understanding that including their perspectives is a prerequisite to creating functional and just societies. We have created a number national institutions dedicated to empowering women.
The UAE’s National Strategy for the Advancement of Women was established by our first lady, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, thirteen years ago. This action plan for the participation of women in the national development process includes both the public and private sectors, and strengthens the concept of gender equality in policies, programs, and legislation. In 2012, the government passed a law mandating women’s representation on the boards of state-owned companies and government agencies, making the UAE one of the first Arab countries to implement such a law. And last year, the UAE formed a Gender Balance Council that focuses on tackling legislative reforms to further gender equality domestically.
The UAE model also proves there are strong linkages between education, women’s empowerment, and economic growth. In the UAE, education is a top priority for all citizens, and interestingly it is an area where women are outperforming men. The UAE is the only country in the MENA region to fully close the educational attainment gender gap: women comprise the majority of students in higher education, and more than half of the UAE’s federal university graduates in STEM fields are women.
This is translating into a major boost for our industries, which urgently need local employees, as well as gender balance in the workplace that reinforces and cement’s society’s positive attitudes toward female achievement. In a region beset by myriad challenges we believe that the role of women in enabling peace, security and development is more critical than ever.
This is just a snap shot of our national progress in achieving gender equality. We acknowledge that this is an ongoing process. But today, International Women’s Day, we must celebrate the achievements of many nations around the world, as well as the important work of the United Nations. If we are going achieve the ambitious SDGs, we must ‘step up’ our efforts to further gender parity. The UAE will continue to promote the rights of women, not only in our country, but around the world, and it is our hope that other Member States will join us in working towards Planet 50-50 as a key cross-cutting priority.
As Phumzile said, gender equality is a necessity for us to be our best selves.