UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous carried out a two day mission in the United Arab Emirates, where she delivered opening remarks at the Women, Peace and Security conference held in Abu Dhabi, and met with government officials, civil society representatives and women peace advocates from around the Arab region and the world.
The mission agenda underscored the UAE’s advancement in gender equality and women’s empowerment domestically and regionally, as well as its role in supporting women’s leadership in the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325, which promotes efforts to integrate women and their perspectives in peace and security around the world. With a non-permanent seat on the Security Council through the end of 2023, the UAE is in position to support increasing progress on the Women, Peace and Security agenda worldwide.
In a conversation with H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak at the outset of the mission, the Executive Director and Her Highness discussed the partnership between UN Women and the United Arab Emirates on global gender equality. They reiterated their commitment to collaborate to increase women’s representation in peace and security globally, emphasizing the importance of the newly launched Global Center of Excellence on Women, Peace and Security in the UAE and its catalytic role in advancing this agenda. Moreover, they agreed to take concrete steps towards implementing the United Arab Emirates National Action Plan to advance Security Council Resolution 1325.
Following the conversation with H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Executive Director undertook a range of bilateral meetings with key UAE partners.
During a meeting with His Excellency Sheikh Shakhboot Nahyan Al Nahyan, Ms. Bahous discussed the importance of women’s empowerment, with a focus on supporting women’s economic empowerment in Africa.
Strategies for the integration of gender mainstreaming across the diplomatic, political, and economic arenas were the focus of Ms. Bahous’ meeting with Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Senior Diplomatic Advisor to His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi.
A meeting with HE Mohamed Al Bawardi, Minister of State for Defense, focused on ways to advance implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325, and marked joint commitment to advancing the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Women, Peace and Security Initiative as well as increasing women’s representation globally in peacekeeping and in the military.
In a meeting with H.E. Reem Al Hashimi, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, the Executive Director commended the efforts of the UAE on gender equality globally. The two agreed to continue deepening the collaboration between the UAE and UN Women, with a focus on the advancement of Sustainable Development Goal 5 and moving the needle on the under-representation of women in leadership and in peace and security globally.
Women’s leadership in addressing climate change was the focus of a meeting with H.E. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State for Industry and Advanced Technology, UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change & Managing Director & Group CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). With the UAE set to host the 28th meeting of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) Conference of the Parties, or COP28, in 2023, it was agreed to collaborate on centering women’s issues in the climate agenda and to work together to advance this as a key priority at COP28. The Executive Director reiterated UN Women’s willingness to extend technical expertise in this regard.
Discussions with H.E. Noura Al Suweidi, Secretary General of the UAE General Women’s Union, focused on the country’s implementation of its National Action Plan on Resolution 1325. The Executive Director offered the support of UN Women to this effect. During her visit to the General Women’s Union, and as a means of observing the UAE’s concrete support for the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, Ms. Bahous attended the launch of the third cohort of the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Women, Peace and Security Capacity Building and Training Program for Women in Peacekeeping and in the Military, a collaboration between the UAE government and UN Women.
While in the UAE the Executive Director also met with Dena Assaf, United Nations Resident Coordinator in the UAE. The two discussed the key opportunity ahead to integrate gender perspectives across all areas of climate action, with an eye toward COP28.
Delivering the opening remarks at the International Conference on Women, Peace and Security, the Executive Director emphasized the need for collaboration at all levels on the issue of gender equality in the peace and security sector. She said:
“UN Women and its partners around the world are striving to advance the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, but we need the international community, including all regional organizations, to stand in solidarity with us, so that we can fully fulfill the commitments we made to women and girls in conflict areas and survivors of violence. We must listen carefully to the voices of women; this is our only way to restore balance, and gain opportunities for peace that will not be achieved without this synergy, so let us stand together for our common values. The peace and security we aspire to will only be possible when women play a central role.”
During the visit to Abu Dhabi, Ms. Bahous also met with women leaders from several countries to discuss priorities and opportunities for cooperation. This included the Palestinian Minister of Women, H.E. Amal Hamad; H.E. Khadijo Mohamed Diriye, Minister for Women and Human Rights, Somalia; and Katarina Fotovat, Senior Official to the Global Women’s Initiative, of the United States Department of State, with whom Ms. Bahous discussed options for joint work in the context of the Generation Equality Forum.
Speaking at the conclusion of the mission, Ms. Bahous noted the progress of the UAE on women’s empowerment, gender equality, and peace and security. She also confirmed UN Women’s commitment and dedicated support as the country continues its advancement of and support for women’s leadership worldwide. She expressed that she is looking forward to continuing dialogue with UAE leaders and stakeholders to support the advancement of women and girls nationally and globally, especially in the context of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325.