Advancing the agenda through partnerships: Women’s economic inclusion and participation as a key to building peace

I am greatly honored to preside over this Open Debate today, in particular on the occasion of International Women’s Day. I thank Sima Bahous for her insightful briefing and the work of UN Women. I also thank Kristalina Georgieva and Moussokoro Coulibaly for sharing their briefings, experiences, commitment, and concrete recommendations on how the international community can strengthen women’s economic inclusion in fragile settings. A special thank you to the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund for their dedication to support Moussokoro’s participation today.I also welcome my fellow Ministers and thank you for joining us today.

As we have heard today, despite significant progress, persistent gaps, and challenges in the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda still hinder women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation. Women are critical to recovery and relief efforts, yet their inclusion remains undervalued and their access to opportunities, resources, and markets remains limited. The McKinsey Global Institute estimated that global GDP could increase by USD 28 trillion, or 26 percent, by 2025 by reducing gender gaps in the workforce and increasing presence in leadership positions, yet women are still excluded despite this vital potential for growth. Women must not only benefit from sustainable post conflict recovery; they must be in the driver’s seat, as planners, decision makers, and implementers in all sectors of society to ensure sustainable peacebuilding.

Since the adoption of the landmark resolution 1325, the private sector’s role in advancing collective public goods has increased exponentially. From combating climate change, to responding to humanitarian crises, to addressing pandemics and health emergencies, the private sector is a key partner. It would be self-defeating to minimize or neglect the private sector’s role in realizing the transformative goals of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Public-private partnerships can leverage their unique and multi-dimensional roles in communities, not only to improve women’s individual livelihoods, autonomy, and self-sufficiency in fragile settings, but also to strengthen women’s opportunities to engage fully, equally, and meaningfully in their communities and to rebuild their nations.

The UAE would like to propose four recommendations for Member States, the UN, and the private sector to better empower and support women in conflict-affected settings:

First, in order to rebuild sustainable, inclusive and equitable societies, women and girls must be at the center of post-conflict economic reform efforts. This calls for greater inclusion of women and women’s organizations in designing economic recovery plans, adopting enabling legal and regulatory frameworks, and setting benchmarks to incentivize allocation of resources towards women’s economic inclusion. As a founding member of the Women Entrepreneurs Financing Initiative – a multi-donor trust fund – the UAE has contributed USD 50 million in support of around 300,000 women entrepreneurs gaining access to finance, market, and networks in countries such as Iraq, Yemen, and Ethiopia.

Second, all relevant stakeholders need to better understand and leverage the interplay with one another. For example, Member States, the UN, and local women’s organizations can play a critical role in connecting the private sector to local women in conflict-affected communities. They can ensure that trade delegations, business roundtables, and conventions include private sector representatives with aspiring women entrepreneurs from the crisis-affected areas. Multi-stakeholder platforms, like the Generation Equality Forum’s Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action, could support such links at the regional and local level.

Third, the private sector benefits from stable and peaceful societies; so too must it contribute to the emergence of those societies. The private sector can effectively be part of this by integrating opportunities for social entrepreneurship, which would ensure that their operations benefit the communities’ interests. This must include women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation, as that is a key pillar to ensure sustainable peaceful societies.

Finally, we must ensure women have equal access to all services that enable them to participate in the economy. Together, the public and private sectors offer a wide array of resources that support women’s economic inclusion, such as access to digital technologies, capacity-building in financial literacy, and vocational education. Throughout the past two years of the pandemic, we have seen once again that technology is a gateway to public spaces and markets. The digital divide risks undermining these opportunities. We must ensure that women enjoy access to this critical tool in securing their livelihoods.

In conclusion, peacebuilding is a unique opportunity to re-evaluate priorities, redesign the social contracts of communities ravaged by conflict, and to promote initiatives that bring about social change. This is not an issue that can be solely addressed by governments, or multilateral institutions, or companies, alone. It must be a collective effort, pursued in a consistent manner. The UAE looks forward to continuing this discussion with our briefers, fellow Member States, the private sector, and all relevant stakeholders.

Thank you.