Delivered by: Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of State
At the outset, we thank you for holding the sixty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Women, and welcome its focus this year on the importance of bridging the digital divide for the empowerment of women and girls.
We are all aware of the important role played by digital technologies in today’s world, particularly in improving quality of life in communities and developing critical fields. As we continue to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, technology and innovation will play a greater role in building our collective social, political, and economic futures. This requires integrating gender perspective into this intersection of technology and development to ensure its sustainability.
With the support of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, my country continues to empower women in technology and ensure they have equal opportunities. In this context, we would like to highlight three areas which must be focused on to bridge the gender digital divide:
First, we need to increase education, employment and leadership opportunities for women in technology and innovation. During the Covid pandemic, we have seen how digital technology has contributed to uninterrupted access to education and employment. My country’s experience during the pandemic was effective in terms of expanding distance learning approaches and making them available to everyone. We also launched several educational initiatives and digital platforms, including “The Digital School” initiative, which was launched recently. The Digital School is the first school that provides distance education in a smart and flexible format, and 55% of its students are females. My country has also empowered women in science fields. 61% of the students in universities of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in the UAE are females, and we are working to provide equal opportunities for women after graduation.
Second, taking advantage of the opportunities offered by digital age in strengthening women’s political participation. Technology can revolutionize peacebuilding and women’s participation in peace processes by offering tools that foster collaboration, changing the stereotype image of women, and allowing women to express their views and concerns. For example, my country launched the “Virtual Reality Technology” initiative to give everyone the opportunity to attend the sessions of the Federal National Council, in which women’s representation 50%.
Third, ensuring women and girls participation in preparing for the future, from addressing climate change to exploring space. My country is committed to provide women and girls equal access to technologies used in these fields. For example, women made up 34% of the Emirates Mars Mission and 80% of the entire science team of this project, allowing them the opportunity to participate in decision making, and developing technology used in this sector. As we prepare to host COP28, we continue to underscore the importance of a gender lens across all relevant discussions. It is for this reason that our leadership team has two-thirds, and our management team has over 50%, of women to ensure an inclusive and sustainable approach that promotes gender equality.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that bridging the gender digital divide requires a global partnership to maximize results, and hence ensure equal and affordable access of women and girls to information and communications technologies. It is time to intensify our efforts in this regard and work relentlessly to bridge these gaps. On our part, my country will continue to work with member states to advance women and promote their equal access to technologies, to ensure a better future for women and girls around the world.