The Crown Prince of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid attended the official opening of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel "HLP" meeting on Women’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 organizations and civil society in addition to international organizations concerned with women’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 Women’s Economic Empowerment by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as this important topic was at the center 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 HE Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi for taking a leadership role in organizing this meeting which gave us the opportunity to be in Dubai”.
Solis called participants to champion this opportunity and find ways to support women’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 Women’s Economic Empowerment as it is an issue to global importance.
In her speech during the opening session, UAE Minister of State for Tolerance HE Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi affirmed that women’s empowerment is a top priority in the UAE’s agenda. Sheikha Lubna said that the leadership and government of the UAE are committed to empowering women as stated in the UAE Strategic Plan.
She added that gender balance is part of UAE Vision 2021 that aims to protect women from all forms of discrimination and biases.
Al Qasimi expressed appreciation and gratitude to Mother of the Nation, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union (GWU), Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) 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 organizations, 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 Lunba Al Qasimi also highlighted the support and follow-up of Her Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, and her efforts to activate the Gender Inequality Index.
Sheikha Lubna also demonstrated the cooperation between the UAE and the United Nations and electing 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).
Al Qasimi said UAE contributions to UN Women amounted to US$ 12 million and the UAE Government supported the establishment of the UN Women’s office in Abu Dhabi to liaise with GCC countries. Sheikha Lubna also highlighted the UAE’s efforts to support, empower and enable women both locally and internationally.
On behalf of President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, Her Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 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 Women’s Economic Empowerment.
Al Marri said His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, has assigned the Council to activate the UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index, aiming to have the UAE listed amongst the top 25 countries worldwide by 2021.
Mona Al Marri also demonstrated the role of the UAE Gender Balance Council, 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 women’s participation and engagement in all aspects of work. Al Marri 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-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’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 women’s empowerment. Our partnership with the UAE has been underpinned and guided by the visionary leadership of the UAE and specifically Her Highness 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. 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 Her Excellency Noura Al Suweidi. 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 recognize Her Highness 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 women’s economic empowerment, implementing the SDGs, and mobilizing men and boys to be part of the global movement towards gender equality”.
Phumzile Mlambo concluded: “I thank also Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna and the Gender Balance Council, under the guidance of its Vice President Her Excellency Mona Al Marri, for hosting these penultimate deliberations before we present the Panel’s final report to the UN Secretary-General next month”.