Delivered by H.E. Shamsa Saleh, Secretary General of the UAE Gender Balance Council

Theme: Building back better – women’s participation and leadership in COVID-19 response and recovery

Thank you for the opportunity to present the UAE’s perspective at this important meeting. The Commission on the Status of Women provides us with innovative solutions to global challenges.

The Covid-19 crisis has shed fresh light on gender inequalities around the world. This re-prioritization of gender issues must continue beyond the recovery phase. 

I would like to share with you how the UAE supports women in in leadership and on the frontlines. Women are at the forefront of our Covid-19 response, and a gender balance perspective informs our recovery planning.

The success of our response is a direct result of the UAE’s adaptability, and of the number of women leaders involved in crisis management and future planning.

The pandemic accelerated the pace of technological innovation required to maintain health and safety. Her Excellency Mariam Al Mheiri, the UAE Minister for Food and Water Security, oversaw the development of a sustainable food security strategy that emphasizes the importance of girls’ education and preparedness for these future industries.

Overnight, the education system adopted remote learning, and government services had to continue in a pandemic-safe way. Rapid invention and implementation of technological solutions were led by the public sector, where 66% of workers are women – these women are leaders, technicians, and service providers, and undoubtedly a key source of our well-being.

Around the world last year, women spent 3 times more than men on unpaid caregiving, and are now more challenged by the well-known realities of work-life balance. In response, the UAE enhanced its gender-mainstreaming efforts across government and the private sector. Gender-responsive budgeting and support for women entrepreneurs are a priority, remote work options were introduced, and an equal wage law and paid parental and paternity leave laws were passed.

Positive reception to this new way of life resulted from strong communication at local, regional, and global levels. The UAE Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management, amongst whom were women leaders, promoted the importance of daily public communication: public health information was transmitted alongside a message of hope.

During a once-in-a-generation global challenge, Her Excellency Sara Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology, and Chairperson of the UAE Space Agency, led the successful UAE Mars Mission, with a team of 80% women.

Her Excellency Hessa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, oversaw the recruitment of over 600,000 volunteers, 53% of whom were women.

Early interventions co-designed by women ensure that whole societies benefit. I believe that many of our policies can be scaled up and across diverse countries to support global recovery.

In conclusion, Madam Vice Chair, the UAE prioritizes a gender-responsive approach to addressing Covid 19, and recognizes that the key to a successful recovery lies with women’s full and effective participation in decision-making. Thank you.