UAE dedicated to promoting values of tolerance, positivity, says Mona Al Marri

DUBAI, 23rd August, 2016 (WAM) – The UAE has emerged as a model for women’s empowerment due to the steadfast support provided by the country’s leadership in fostering an environment that provides women opportunities to actively contribute to national progress, Vice-President of the UAE Gender Balance Council and President of Dubai Women Establishment Mona Ghanem Al Marri affirmed.

”Supported by the country’s leadership, the achievements and successes of UAE women have furthered the country’s progress and development,” she said.

The UAE, she said, is dedicated to promoting the spirit of tolerance and spreading hope and positivity in the Arab world, despite the challenges being faced by many countries in the region. This has made the UAE a beacon of optimism and a force for prosperity, security and stability in the region.

Al Marri reiterated that the UAE leadership has high aspirations for women since it believes they have the ability to play an influential role in the country’s resurgence in various fields. She pointed out to the significant progress made towards the political and economic participation of women in the Gulf, which has inspired other women across the world.

Al Marri made these remarks at a meeting with a UN Women delegation comprising Antonie de Jong, Outreach and Business Development Adviser, Hind Al Owais, Senior Advisor, and Marnie Selby Diouf, Partnerships Expert. The meeting comes ahead of the 17th October opening of the United Nations (UN) Women Office in Abu Dhabi, which will serve as a liaison office for GCC countries. Al Marri described the office as a crucial platform to promote co-operation between the UN and the countries of the region, including their various commissions and institutions for women’s development and empowerment.

Held at the Government of Dubai Media Office, the meeting was also attended by several other members of the UAE Gender Balance Council.

Al Marri said at the meeting that the UAE’s achievements in various fields, including women’s empowerment, stem from the leadership’s ambitious vision that has led to the UAE becoming a pioneer in many areas regionally and globally. She cited the example of the appointment of a Minister of Happiness, the first such position anywhere in the world.

The Vice President of the UAE Gender Balance Council highlighted the country’s major achievements in the field of women’s empowerment and gender balance, key among which being the Political Empowerment Programme of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, which was launched in 2005. She noted that the programme has achieved its objectives of expanding political participation, enhancing the role of women in the Federal National Council, and empowering women across all fields.

Other key achievements Al Marri mentioned included the initiative by Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in February 2015 to form the UAE Gender Balance Council aimed at enhancing the role of women as partners in building the future. She also highlighted the continued support of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and his dedication to enhancing active participation of women in various fields, which reflects the country’s commitment to promoting the status of women in society, complementing their roles as educators of future generations, pillars of the family and essential building blocks of society.

She also spoke of the exceptional support of 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, and her commitment to enhance the status of women in the UAE and the Arab world, through initiatives and projects that allow them to achieve the highest levels of participation in society.

The most important of these is the national strategy launched by H.H. in March 2015 to empower women leaders in the country through 2021, as well as provide a framework for all federal and government institutions and civil society organisations to develop plans for women’s empowerment in all areas of sustainable development.

Al Marri outlined the objectives of the UAE Gender Balance Council, which have been inspired by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. She said that the leadership’s women’s empowerment initiatives are part of the goal of raising the country’s ranking to one of the top 25 countries in the world for gender equality by the year 2021.

Al Marri also lauded the efforts undertaken by UN Women and its effective international strategy to build women’s capacities and empower them in all fields. She also commended their initiatives to promote gender equality in accordance with the principle of equal opportunities, and expressed the hope that the opening of a regional UN Women Office in Abu Dhabi will usher in a new phase of close co-operation in the field of women’s empowerment in the form of joint initiatives, projects and programmes. She reiterated the UAE Gender Balance Council’s commitment to co-operate with the UN in implementing such initiatives in the short and long term.

She concluded by saying that the UAE Gender Balance Council, chaired by H.H. Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is supporting the implementation of a ‘Gender Balance Index’ which will provide a tangible measure of progress in women’s participation in various governmental commissions and institutions, apart from inspiring similar progress among private sector institutions.

The UN delegation praised the UAE’s exceptional achievements in women’s empowerment in the short period of time since its founding in 1971. Hind Al Owais, the first Emirati woman to hold the position of Senior Advisor to the Deputy Executive Director of the UN, stated that the UAE has earned international recognition and respect for its progress in various fields, especially in women’s empowerment. The UAE’s support will help the UN Women Office conduct its mission and achieve its objectives, she said, and added that the office will help open more channels of co-operation with governments in the region.

Al Owais explained that the office will focus on developing strategic partnerships with Gulf and Arab institutions, and advising regional governments on policies that support women. The office will also help promote the status of women in the region, support governments and strengthen co-operation in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.