NEW YORK – During the meeting of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Chiefs of Defense Network on 10 July 2019, the UAE reaffirmed its commitment to advancing the WPS agenda and announced the second round of the UAE-UN Women Military and Peacekeeping Training Programme for Women, which is set to launch in January 2020. The programme is held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, 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 run in partnership with UN Women, the UAE Ministry of Defence, and the General Women’s Union.

The presence of the UAE delegation, headed by Major General Pilot Sheikh Ahmed bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the National Service and Reserve Authority, also marked the UAE’s maiden participation in the Network’s meeting.

Speaking about the military and peacekeeping training programme, Major General Pilot Sheikh Ahmed bin Tahnoon stated: “We undertook this programme because the UAE recognizes that although we are not a troop or police contributing country, the responsibility for deployment of women in the military and police lies with Member States. As a strong proponent of the WPS agenda, the UAE is committed to supporting the increased participation of women at all levels of peace and security processes.”

He outlined the objectives of the programme and shared the success of the first cohort to undertake this training – 134 women from seven Arab countries – who completed their training in May 2019, earning certificates in basic military training, peacekeeping, First Aid, and jiujitsu. Furthermore, he announced that the second cohort of trainees will be invited to join the training programme from Africa and Asia, expanding the geographic diversity of those eligible for the training programme. 

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, opened the meeting underlining, “I want us to change our outlook that projects women as victims. Women are leaders and changemakers, and they can also protect men.”

The meeting was convened by the United Kingdom, the current Chair of the Network, which consists of senior military gender champions who are working to address the challenges in implementing the WPS agenda by enabling the influence of senior military leaders to drive transformative cultural and institutional change within their own armed forces. The Network will provide a peer forum for WPS champions to discuss the barriers to effective implementation of WPS commitments. During the meeting, the United Kingdom handed over the chairmanship of the Network to Canada for a one-year term.

The UAE’s longstanding commitment to advancing the WPS agenda dates back to 2000 when the UN Security Council first adopted resolution 1325, which established the agenda and addressed the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women and girls, the historic failure to include women in decision-making processes and peace negotiations, and recognized the important role women play in preventing and resolving conflict. Through this military and peacekeeping training programme­, the UAE aims to amplify the vital role women play in the security sector and the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations, and equip civilian women with the skills to protect themselves and their communities in times of conflict.