Delivered by: Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of State
I want to begin by thanking Minister Vieira for chairing today’s meeting. I also wish to thank our briefers, Secretary-General Guterres, UN Women Executive Director Bayous, ICRC President Spoljaric, Ambassador de Oliveira and Ms. Al-Karib for their valuable remarks.
Globally, the number of women and girls living in conflict-affected regions reached 614 million last year. That is 50% higher than in 2017.
Not only do women have a stake in the prevention and resolution of conflict, but they are also agents of peace whose potential for action must be leveraged.
It is our collective responsibility that women’s participation does not remain an afterthought, or an add-on, but instead, becomes the status quo.
To this effect, the UAE would like to share three recommendations.
First, we must boost women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation at the national level.
For peace efforts to be sustainable and fully representative of the interests of the community, it is critical to involve women and local community members. This not only provides important voices and perspectives on the process, but also ensures that the process takes root within the community it is attempting to assist.
We also support the adoption of appropriate and targeted measures, such as quotas for political and leadership positions, or employment and education opportunities, with the objective to improve the position of women and advance their equality.
In the UAE for example, the gender parity quota for the Federal National Council has gone a long way towards ensuring that women are not only benefiting from the development of our country, but driving it.
Second, at the multinational level, including in the UN Security Council, regional and international institutions need to be shaped by women’s perspectives.
Mainstreaming the WPS agenda remains a key tool in ensuring that women and girls’ perspectives are part and parcel of peace and security. In that regard, the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security – a dedicated group of the Security Council experts – has been essential to better understanding the plight of women in conflict as well as their contribution to preventing and resolving it. As co-chair of the Group with Switzerland this year, this has been a helpful mechanism to advance the WPS agenda across country-specific files and provide opportunities for cross-regional prioritisation.
But that’s not all. A deeper understanding of the situation of women and girls cannot be conveyed by proxy.
Hearing directly from women civil society leaders provides key insights into efforts on the ground. This is an important and shared message that we stress today alongside our fellow signatories to the Shared Commitments for Women, Peace and Security.
Third, women’s participation across the spectrum, not just within the political parameters, has proven to contribute to peace and security.
In post-war scenarios, where economies are often depleted, women’s economic participation is needed more than ever, not only in the pursuit of an improvement of the individual livelihoods of women, their autonomy and self-sufficiency, but also to leverage their capacity to help rebuild communities.
As we heard from Sima, today in Gaza, the UN has reported a grim figure of 1,100 new female-headed households due to civilian casualties, with almost 4,000 children having lost their fathers. Gaza will depend on these women not only to rebuild, but to be the sole bearers of responsibility and care for those who survive the bombardment.
Partnerships can also provide a gateway for women to bring about positive change throughout the conflict continuum – prevention, relief provision during conflict, and peacebuilding and recovery.
Women will find a way to participate, as we always have. Women contributed to the very first codification of International Humanitarian Law at the First Hague Peace Conference in 1899, leading to the Hague Conventions.
Their views and actions are present in the very DNA of the laws and customs of war and the rules that protect all civilians, women and men alike, rules which we are all bound by.
When space is not made for participation, women and their allies have created it, sometimes through unconventional means. We have seen this in Bosnia, Liberia, and Colombia.
No doubt in the years to come we will refer to the women of Palestine in the same breath.
Every day that women are excluded is a day that we hold ourselves back in the pursuit of our shared peace and security goals.
To turn the tide, we urge all member states to carry forward this sustained and ongoing commitment to women’s participation in international peace and security.
I would like to end with a quote from a woman who refused to be excluded from her society, Malala Yousafzai. She said, “There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women”.
Thank you, Mr. President.