Delivered by Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative
We thank Gabon for organizing this open debate, and the UAE welcomes that Gabon has joined the Shared WPS Presidency Commitments. We thank Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, Executive Director Sima Bahous, AU Special Envoy Ms. Diop, and especially Ms. Nader for their powerful contributions today.
There are many contexts around the world that we could use as examples of women and girls’ resilience. But one of the most prominent ones today is that of Afghan women and girls. It has been almost 400 days since girls in Afghanistan have not been allowed to attend secondary schools. There are no ifs and buts. The UAE finds this, and the many other restrictions in place since the Taliban took over, completely unacceptable.
The exclusion of Afghan women and girls from public and social life is yet another example of how violence against women and girls can take numerous forms. In the face of this violence, we continue to hear inspirational stories of female teachers and students tirelessly pursuing their right to education in Afghanistan. They use digital tools to attend classes in the metaverse. Can we find a better alternative than forcing women and girls into the virtual space? I think we can, and we must. This is enabling gender apartheid if we accept this as a long-term solution.
Despite the resistance of women and girls around the world to repeated acts of misogyny, armed groups exacerbate acts of violence in all its forms. They erode the social fabric of communities. They abuse, persecute, detain, and oppress women. So, by focusing today’s discussion on how to strengthen women’s resilience under these circumstances, we honor the core idea of the WPS agenda at its inception.
You were asked at the press stakeout earlier what these Council sessions actually achieve. Let’s commit today to answering that question. Gabon’s action-oriented approach today is welcome in capturing the recommendations we all make in a Chair’s summary. The UAE, therefore, proposes the following four recommendations:
First, we know that local and regional women’s networks and organizations are key. When violence in communities erupts, its impact can be crippling and life-long. These networks provide a foundation for collective resilience against conflict. Yet, as we heard from Executive Director Bahous today, these networks continue to face barriers in access to consistent and reliable funding. They rely on the goodwill of individual Member States, yet still – bilateral contributions went down from 0.4% to 0.3% in just one year. We lack a systematic approach, despite the financial mechanisms that exist. Accordingly, our recommendation is to ask the Fifth Committee to consider funding women’s organizations as part of the UN’s regular budget as a key recommendation for today.
Second, when women participate in the economy and directly benefit from this participation, they are more resilient against violence. In the age of digitization, women and girls’ economic and social growth increasingly depends on their access to digital technologies. In the Oyo State in Nigeria, the “She Learns Here” initiative provides workshops where rural women learn basic business skills and digital skills. If they are to be on par with their male peers in the economy, their digital literacy and connectivity are indeed bare necessities. But no one should have to exist solely in the metaverse to have their rights protected. Their voices need to be heard and amplified in school, with their classmates, and in all the other facets of public life where they belong. Let’s give them the digital tools to compete in the same world as men and boys.
Third, protection of women and girls is bolstered when women peacekeepers, observers, and protection officers are in the field. This is why the UAE’s Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Women, Peace and Security Initiative, developed in partnership with UN Women, launched its third training programme for women cadets in September. Recently, Executive Director Bahous got to meet the new cohort of cadets from Kenya, from India, Bahrain, and elsewhere seeing first-hand the impact that this initiative is having in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. We have repeatedly heard cadets link the training to their later success in service, bolstering their self-confidence and critical skills. Investments in their capacity help strengthen gender-responsive and inclusive security sector reform at the national level as well as the international level. This can be a step-change towards effective responses to threats and violence by armed groups. Financing for that capacity-building must accelerate, particularly as conflict become more dangerous than ever before for all of us.
As we inch closer to another anniversary of resolution 1325, we must reflect on what this really means. We find ourselves still battling the misconceptions of women and girls as victims or survivors, but not agents of change. We are witnessing Afghanistan rapidly roll back into the same place it was 22 years ago. In that same time frame, the international community, including this Council, has been adequately and sufficiently equipped with the necessary tools to drive this agenda forward. The political will apparently exists as well as the framework. Now, more than ever, action is the missing piece. As we heard from Ms. Melinda Gates during UNGA77, “we need to stop talking about empowering women, and just give them power”. I can think of no better final recommendation for this Council.