Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, speaks at the First Ladies Summit, during the second day of the World Energy Forum 2012 at Dubai World Trade Centre and Exhibition Halls, Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Educating and empowering women are solutions for sustainability and saving humankind — a call made by Princess Haya Bint Al Hussain, wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, during the First Ladies Summit for Sustainable Development.

She stressed the critical role played by women in addressing challenges to economic growth and environmental preservation.

“Women are deeply affected by policies on energy, water and food, they take the lead in families in buying and preparing food all over the world. They also gather water and fuel in many societies,” she said in her speech, adding that eight out of 10 farmers in Africa and six out of 10 in Asia are women.

The summit was held during the World Energy Forum 2012 under her patronage.

Haya remarked that providing sustainable energy for women would have a positive impact on society as well as the economy.

“Reducing energy poverty among women is a wise investment. It allows them to prepare food and purify water. And it would reduce the four million deaths that are caused by unclean water and poor hygiene every year,” she said.

In a world of roughly seven billion people, nearly a billion are hungry, 1.1 billion don’t have access to clean drinking water and 1.3 billion live without electricity, according to the latest UN statistics. “Ending energy poverty will also give women access to the modern world and new educational possibilities — radio, television and the internet,” she added.

Lack of access to energy, water and food will let millions of women struggle to feed their children and the hungry will teeter at the edge of catastrophe, she added. “High food prices today are devastating poor families. The world economy can no longer afford to lose or waste a third of its food output…yet a number of countries still do.”

Stressing on the significance of the World Energy Forum, she said by 2030, there will be a need of 50 per cent more food, 30 per cent more water and 40 per cent more energy. “Together we need to move forward and break the political stalemate that holds back progress. How this is done will decide the fate of future generations,” she remarked.

Borrowing a quote from Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairperson of the General Women’s Union, Haya said: “A nation’s greatness is not measured by wealth of urban development but rather through noble human values and the kindness of its people.”

She added that respect is deeply ingrained in the Bedouin culture. “When you live in the desert you have to conserve the necessities of life to survive,” Haya said. “That is how we should all be judged. There is no value in development that tramples the human spirit and depletes the world’s resources — that is not the future we want for our children.”

“Let us leave this World Energy Forum determined to build a truly sustainable future that promotes growth and preserves our environment.”

While the UAE is an oil-producing country, it is striving to move away from a hydrocarbon-dependant economy by embracing alternative energy sources. “The UAE is striving to develop and boost its rich resources and expertise in the international energy markets and enhance its leading role as a world centre for renewable energy research and development,” Haya said.