During the general discussion of the 63rd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the UAE called for greater action to address current challenges in advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
H.E. Ms. Hessa Tahlak, Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Community Development and Head of the UAE Delegation to the annual session of the CSW, delivered the national statement outlining the UAE's advances on gender equality and women's empowerment – crediting Emirati leaders who believed in the critical role and inclusion of women in all of society.
"Our founding father His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan left us a rich legacy that provides the vision to continue building a prosperous and tolerant society based on the principle of empowering women and girls. This vision is also supported by 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, who leads the national efforts to empower women," she stated.
H.E. Tahlak highlighted that the UAE Constitution guarantees equal rights to all its citizens, women and men, and that the UAE considers women's participation in decision-making roles a key pillar for women's economic empowerment. In December 2018, the UAE issued a decree to increase the percentage of women in the Federal National Council to 50 percent by the next term – reinforcing the UAE's committment to gender equality and women and girls' empowerment.
H.E. Tahlak stated that the UAE's efforts to empower women and girls extend beyond its borders, and gender equality underpins Emirati foreign aid policy. Recently, the UAE launched the "100% women" iniative, which aims to incorporate gender equality and women's empowerment into all bilateral and multilateral foreign aid projects by 2021. Additionally, she emphasized that the priority theme of the session, "Social Protection Systems, Access to Public Services, and Sustainable Infrastructure for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls," is a critical topic at this time.
"Sustainable infrastructure development is one of the main objectives of the UAE's international assistance and a key driver in empowering women and girls," stressed H.E. Tahlak. "Improved infrastructure contributes to increased mobility and access to markets, and reduces the time of unpaid domestic work, thus freeing women and girls to improve their livelihoods and better contribute to the economy."
She concluded that well-designed social protection systems and public services, supported by sustainable infrastructure, could play a significant role in promoting gender equality and women's empowerment. To this end, the UAE has launched national consultations on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, the blueprint for achieving gender equality. The UAE is also committed to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with a core perspective towards gender equality and the advancement of women.