This week, the Permanent Missions of the United Arab Emirates and Ireland to the United Nations and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) hosted a high-level virtual panel discussion on advancing women’s role in economic recovery and climate resilience in post-conflict settings. The virtual panel discussion evaluated measures and policies that empower women during economic recovery from conflict, especially in the context of climate change and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

“Post-conflict economic recovery initiatives often fail to incorporate women either as beneficiaries or active participants in decision-making and program implementation,” said H.E. Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN. “Especially in this era of COVID-19 and climate change, it is critical that economic crisis-response measures account for the unique situation of women in conflict and post-conflict zones, where the cost of women and girls being excluded from decision-making processes is highest.”

Co-host and moderator of the virtual panel discussion Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of GIWPS, stated, “The failure to include women’s participation in post-conflict decision making can undermine the potential for a durable peace going forward.”

H.E. Geraldine Byrne Nason, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Ireland to the UN, remarked, “During COVID-19, we have seen women leaders and peacebuilders worldwide step up to protect their communities and countries. We know this pattern. In post-conflict societies, women grassroots leaders often help guide the transition to peace.”

Guest speaker Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN-Women, added, “Building back better for us means economies that respond to climate challenges that empower women and where women in conflict find their place. It means we tackle the fundamental inequalities in our society and address digitalization so as to close the digital gender divide.”

The panel included Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General of Climate and Natural Resources at the Food and Agriculture Organization; Dr. Nesreen Barwari, Former Minister of Municipalities and Public Works of Iraq; and Dr. Anne Kuriakose, Senior Social Development Specialist at Climate Investment Funds. Together, the panelists considered solutions to empowering women in the agriculture and public works sectors, as well as large-scale reconstruction investment, taking into account challenges emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. They explored numerous recommendations, including strengthening local institutions in post-conflict rebuilding, creating safety nets to withstand economic shocks, fostering public-private partnerships, and closing the gender digital divide – particularly to improve access to quality education and interconnectedness. 

The virtual panel discussion was the second in a series that the UAE and GIWPS are hosting as part of a joint initiative on advancing the role of women in post-conflict reconstruction ahead of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. The UAE-GIWPS joint initiative also consists of the launch of a major research report in the second half of 2020 and a UN plan of action that will serve as an important guide for the UN Secretary-General’s 2020 Review of Resolution 1325 (2000), as well as the appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.