NEW YORK – During the plenary meeting of the 62nd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the United Arab Emirates reiterated its commitment to achieving gender equality and empowering women, by strengthening its partnership with the Commission and meeting the objectives of the Session.

The UAE’s national statement was delivered by Sana Mohammed Suhail, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Community Development, and the head of the UAE delegation to the annual session of the Commission.

Mrs. Suhail noted that the priority theme of this session, “Challenges and Opportunities in Achieving Gender Equality and Empowering Rural Women and Girls,” is critical at a time when gender disparity is higher in rural communities. Women in rural settings are more vulnerable than women in urban settings, she stated. She also highlighted the importance of sharing best practices and building concrete solutions, in line with the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, to achieve gender equality and to empower women and girls, particularly in rural settings.

In the statement, she underlined that women play a crucial role in building the nation and emphasised the UAE’s efforts to support the advancement of women by ensuring the protection of their rights. The 2015-2021 UAE National Strategy for the Empowerment of Emirati Women provides a framework for government entities to empower and integrate women in all aspects of sustainable development.

The Under-Secretary outlined the important role of the General Women’s Union, led by H.H. 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, in developing strategies for empowering women. Further, she noted that the Ministry of Community Development develops and implements supportive policies & innovative services for the social development of women, while the Gender Balance Council promotes gender balance across all sectors in the UAE.

Suhail emphasised that the UAE is prioritising education for girls, as education is the foundation of the nation’s development. She stressed that the UAE has closed the gender gap in education at the primary, secondary, and university levels. Today, women account for more than 70 percent of university graduates, and much of the programmes are preparing them to work in various non-traditional sectors such as science, technology, security, peace and space.

She further highlighted that the UAE is committed to providing a supportive and safe environment for women in the workplace, by implementing policies that would enable women to work part-time and with more flexibility. The UAE also has paid maternity leave, nurseries at workplaces to support working mothers, and continues to provide services to ensure women’s participation in the nation’s economy. By 2017, there were more than 23,000 women who ran projects worth a total of AED 50 billion. In addition, Mrs. Suhail noted that the UAE is committed to providing the highest level of health care for all residents, regardless of gender.

In the same context, she emphasised the UAE’s determination to increase the number of women in leadership and decision-making roles. Currently, 29 percent of Emirati women are employed in the government sector, and 30 percent are employed in decision-making positions in the public sector.