A decade after the foundation of UN Women, the UAE has remained a leading financial contributor of the organisation dedicated to gender equality.
The UAE ranks first in the Arab world and tenth globally in resource contribution to the international body, which turned 10 on Thursday.
On its milestone anniversary, the organisation called on all governments to factor women’s needs into national pandemic response and recovery plans.
The body noted that the Covid-19 pandemic compounded the challenges faced by women and girls, who have experienced more job loss than men and disproportionately shouldered the burden of childcare, housework and home schooling as countries imposed strict stay-at-home measures to limit the spread of the virus.
Much has been achieved but the pandemic requires renewed dedication to stop discrimination against women and girls, said Dr Mouza Al Shehhi, the director of the body’s GCC liaison office.
“Through the presence of UN Women and its work, improvements have been achieved,” said Dr Al Shehhi. “Equality has advanced and more women are in leadership positions in politics and business.
“But it’s a mixed picture overall and more collaboration is needed to effect great and lasting change, particularly in the areas of economic empowerment, protection against violence, participation in peace and security and addressing cultural and societal barriers that discriminate against women and girls in health and education.”
Over the past ten years, the organisation has worked with governments, the private sector, and civil society to draft laws, policies, programmes and services around key areas of women’s political participation; women’s economic empowerment, advancing the role of women in peace and security and ending violence against women.
“The UAE recognises all these important endeavours as matters of national priority and has championed them over the past four decades, under the vision and guidance of Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak,” said Noura Al Suwaidi, the director-general of the General Women’s Union.
The UAE was the first country in the region to establish an office for UN Women, which opened its GCC liaison in Abu Dhabi in 2016 with support from Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Mother of the Nation and chairwoman of the General Women’s Union.More recently, it worked with the body to provide military and peacekeeping training for women from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. More than 350 women graduated from the programme in 2019 and 2020.
In 2019, UN Women helped bring legal relief to 150,000 women and humanitarian relief to 509,000 women and girls. In the last year, 82 laws and policies were adopted in 40 countries to empower women economically. Additionally, it raised support for women and girl survivors of violence in 49 countries.
However, the organisation cautioned that ‘real change has been slow’ and globally, women earn less, work more, have less access to education, and face violence at home and in public.