The UN Women – the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – and the Global Partnerships Forum, GPF, presented the Agent of Change Award to 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, in recognition of her contributions and achievements in areas of women’s empowerment and gender equality in the UAE and beyond.

The award was received on her behalf by Noura Al Suwaidi, Director of the General Women’s Union, during a high-level event held on Friday on the margins of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly, to honour women leaders committed to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Agents of Change award, created in support of UN Women by renowned artist Spar Street, is an iconic crystal sculpture to capture the concept of movement and transformation, of striving and progress, for the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The event celebrated the achievements of formidable women leaders by honouring them with the Agent of Change Award. The 2017 awardees have consistently been committed to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to the peace and security projects in their countries and beyond.

Addressing the audience on behalf of H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Reem Al Falasi, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, said H.H. Sheikha Fatima has been playing a key role in elevating the status of women in the UAE as an equal partner of men in the building and development of the young UAE nation.

”The UAE is striving to promote gender equality as a foreign policy priority in consistent with H.H. Sheikha Fatima’s vision to empower women in the local community,” she added.

The event was attended by an array of government leaders, business stalwarts, members of civil society, gender equality champions, philanthropists, and change-makers, who have helped empower women and advance gender equality.

Madame Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director, UN Women, said: ”This award represents a true testament to the efforts of H.H. Sheikha Fatima who has ensured that national strategies empower women in the cultural, social, political and economic fields and that tradition and culture must not be a barrier to women and girls’ empowerment. As the leader of the UAE Women’s Union she laid the first ever institutional foundation for the gender machinery in UAE and the Gulf Region. She blessed and strongly supported the unique and pathbreaking partnership between UAE and UN Women and the establishment of UN Women Liaison office for the GCC in Abu Dhabi. UAE is our largest donor to core from the region and also contributing in good measure to non-core resources.” ”H.H.’s conviction is that “Education is a true measure of the progress made by states to attain success and excellence in the field of investment in human capital, including women. An educated human, man or woman, is the basis of civilisation and the axis of advancement and progress.”

Her work and advocacy, she noted, have resulted in women in the UAE gaining access to education, economic opportunities, and are centrally recognized as vital actors in the public sphere and critical decision makers. The UAE has the highest number of women cabinet ministers in the region. Women also play a prominent role in the economy, investing AED 12.5 billion and managing over 11,000 enterprises, which represents a third of investments in the banking and finance sector.” ”Women across the UAE owe a great debt of gratitude to H.H. Sheikha Fatima. She has been the UAE’s compass in making sure that women have the tools and the opportunity to achieve everything they dream of achieving. H.H. Sheikha Fatima still carries the torch and leads the way in achieving gender equality and women empowerment and I was struck during my visit to Abu Dhabi and in my meetings with her how she is called the Mother of the Nation by one and all and she has used that veneration to break the mould and empower women and girls,” the UN official concluded.

Commenting on H.H.’s landmark achievement, Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, United Arab Emirates Permanent Representation to the United Nations and President of UN Women Executive Board for 2017, welcomed the international recognition of the Mother of the Nation, which she affirmed underlines the appreciation by the international community of H.H.’s persistent efforts to advance women’s rights and realise gender equality.

Ambassador Nusseibeh recently chaired the UN Women Board meeting during adopted the Strategic Plan for 2018-2021 and the integrated budget for 2018-2019, which aim to better equip the organisation to realise gender equality by 2030 were adopted.

Considering women’s empowerment as one of its most important achievements of its development record, the UAE announced recently in New York the contribution of US$ 15 million in support of UN Women’s activities and programmes over the next three years.

The agents of change honoured at this luncheon along with Sheikha Fatima included: Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway; Margot Wallstrom, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden; and Retno Marsudi Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia.