NEW YORK – On 9 July 2019, the UAE and UN Women announced the second round of the military and peacekeeping training programme for women at the Khawla bint Al Azwar Military Academy for Women to be held in January 2020 and to also include participants from the African and Asian region. The programme is held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, First Lady of the UAE, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, and runs in partnership with UN Women, the UAE Ministry of Defence, and the General Women’s Union. The announcement was made ahead of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Chiefs of Defense Network meeting at the UN on 10 July 2019, in which the UAE is set to participate.

In a meeting with Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Major General Pilot Sheikh Ahmed bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the National Service and Reserve Authority and head of the UAE delegation to the WPS Chiefs of Defense Network meeting, stated, “The UAE has always recognized the vital role women serve in the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security. Women in the security sector make real, tangible contributions every day to keeping families and communities safe. Our longstanding commitment to empowering women and the WPS agenda motivated us to partner with UN Women on this programme, which equips women with the skills necessary to peace and security efforts. We are proud to see it expand to also include women from Africa and Asia.”

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka, noting the expansion in scope of the training, said: “I am pleased that the UAE Government recognizes the importance of engaging women in all aspects of peace and security processes. This joint training programme is a significant step to successfully developing the capacity of a broad range of women to serve in their national security sectors and in peacekeeping operations.”

Her Excellency Noura Al Suwaidi, Director-General of the General Women’s Union stated, “This programme has seen great success, in part because it signaled a myriad of opportunities for over a hundred women in the Arab world in the security sector. We look forward to expanding this programme and giving more women the opportunity to contribute to maintaining peace and security globally, from defending national interests to providing humanitarian assistance in times of crisis, as well as equipping civilian women with the skills to protect themselves and their communities in times of conflict.”

Dr. Mouza Al Shehhi, Director of the UN Women-UAE Liaison Office for the GCC, expressed, “We are delighted to expand our partnership with the UAE on this endeavour – especially as we approach the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325, which established the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Additionally, we understand that in order to ensure the success and lasting impact of peacekeeping operation, we need to recognize and amplify the role of women. Through these partnerships, not only are we closer to increasing the participation of women as uniformed personnel in UN peacekeeping operations, we are one step closer to achieving long-lasting peace and stability around the world.”

In September 2018, the UAE and UN Women signed a Memorandum of Understanding which established the three-month military and peacekeeping training programme. The programme was first launched in January 2019 with 134 Arab women from the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen, featuring a three-month basic military training followed by a two-week peacekeeping training. The programme aims to prepare female military officers for UN peacekeeping operations and increase the pool of female military officers (both in terms of numbers as well as geographic diversity), create peer-to-peer networks among female military officers to provide support during future deployments, and drive the strategic objectives of UN Security Council resolution 1325, with particular attention to the importance of capacity building and training.