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Mona Al Marri, Vice President of the UAE Gender Balance Council addressing the gathering at the release of the Balance for Better Report at the Women's Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Dubai: Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, President of Dubai Women Establishment and wife of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, today emphasised the importance of fostering dialogues among the public and private sectors in support of altering normative frameworks to further drive women’s engagement and enhance the country’s global competitiveness level, in line with the vision and directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The call was made on the occasion of the UAE Gender Balance Council (UAEGBC) kicking off its participation in Expo 2020 with the launch of its ‘Balance for Better’ report, a complete source of UAE country specific gender balance insights. The launch of the report is yet another milestone in increasing awareness on gender balance and amplifying the UAE’s successful gender balance journey.

The report, which was developed under the guidance and directives of Sheikha Manal outlines the UAE’s successful gender balance journey since the country’s establishment in 1971, with a focus on best practices in three specific fields: economy, society and politics.

It also includes conversations with key experts from ministers to officials and public figures on their views about the UAE’s gender balance accomplishments and successes in their sectors, and presents practical case studies, showcasing examples that have led to a positive change.

Women’s pavilion

The report was launched by Mona Ghanem Al Marri, Vice President of the UAE Gender Balance Council in the Women’s pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020.

The launch was followed by an insightful panel discussion which was moderated by Faisal bin Huraiz from Sky News Arabia.

Panelists included Dr. Maitha bint Salem Al Shamsi, Minister of State; Hessa bint Issa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development.

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Dr. Maitha bint Salem Al Shamsi, Minister of State; Hessa bint Issa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

The report launch and panel discussion were also attended by Naama Al Mansoori, Aisha Al Mulla, Jameela Al Muhairi, Shamsa Saleh as well as Their Highnesses members of the Federal Supreme Council, editors in chief of local newspapers, media professionals and influencers.

Sheikha Manal expressed her happiness with the launch of this report, serving as a vital resource in advancing gender balance across governmental and private sector institutions.

The report draws on the UAE’s gender balance successes and the factors that made the country a regional and global model. The report also recognises the important role women will play in bringing to life the ‘towards the next fifty’ strategy.

These achievements were only made possible as a result of the unlimited support and remarkable contributions provided by the UAE’s wise leadership and the Mother of the UAE Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union (GWU), President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF).

Sheikha Manal added that with the participation of 192 countries and several global organisations, Expo 2020 is truly a global gathering and the right platform to launch the UAE GBC’s report, as it sheds light on the UAE’s successful journey and experience in this field and its commitment to achieving the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically the fifth one on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

Sheikha Manal also highlighted that the UAE’s current global and regional positioning in gender balance is a result of the foundations laid 50 years ago by the country’s founding father the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Foundations that continue to inspire nation’s leaders, decision-makers, officials, employees and youth.

Sheikha Manal also expressed her thanks to all UAE ministries, government entities and private institutions for their support in launching several gender balance initiatives.

“Their support has played a central role in fostering an enabling environment in which women can meaningfully participate and thrive in the economy through proactive, transformative and measurable workplace policies and practices. Our leadership today continues their wisdom, including a commitment to the principles of gender balance and the advancement of women across diverse fields, and recognises the important role women will play in bringing to life the ‘towards the next fifty’ strategy.”

Fostering dialogues

The creation of the ‘Balance for Better’ report is a symbol of UAE GBC’s commitment to achieve further gender balance successes. It also plays a crucial role in fulfilling the UAE’s commitments to the United Nations’ (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and enhancing the UAE’s ranking in global competitiveness reports on achieving balance.

The report covers a range of topics, starting with the foundations laid by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in supporting women, which were carried forward by Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak with the launch of several initiatives, including the national strategy for the Empowerment of Emirati Women 2015-2021.

In her opening speech, Mona Al Marri expressed her thanks to the ministers for their participation in the panel discussion.

She added that the nation’s journey has earned the world’s respect and admiration and “today we all enjoy the success of our efforts to achieve gender balance, as we continue on this path.”

She pointed out that these achievements are driven by the Council’s hard work and commitment since its establishment in 2015 under the directives of Sheikh and the guidance of Sheikha Manal.

Al Marri also highlighted that the Council’s initiatives which include among others the global balances circles, hosting the UN’s high-level panel on women’s economic empowerment and the gender balance guide, are important steps in fulfilling the country’s vision to narrow the gender gap through strong collaboration and actions of all sectors across the UAE.

This objective is inspired by the pioneering vision of the UAE’s leadership, which continuously aspires to be at the forefront, supported by the loyalty, innovative spirit and abilities of its citizens, she said.

Within its competencies and as commissioned by the UAE Cabinet, the Council has updated several legislations and policies that promote gender balance. She added that despite the fact that the UAE’s experience in supporting women and achieving balance between women and men has reached advanced levels, there are still many opportunities to enhance the UAE’s position in related global competitiveness rankings.

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During the panel discussion, the ministers touched on a number of topics and praised the Council’s effort in creating the ‘Balance for Better’ report as it plays an important role in raising awareness among the public and private sector. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Secret of Emirati women’s success

Minister Hessa emphasised the commitment of the wise leadership to supporting Emirati women, saying: “The secret of our women’s success is due to the continuous support of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as well as Their Highnesses members of the Federal Supreme Council.”

She added that the success is also the result of the continuous support by some of the UAE’s greatest women, including Her Highness Sheikha Fatima, Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum and Sheikha Manal.

The minister elaborated that the remarkable success of the UAE in the global leadership test in the past fifty years is due to the local society’s commitment and participation, both men and women. This commitment is a clear indication of the progress of sustainable development in the UAE, which began with the country’s establishment in 1971.

Supportive legislation

Commenting on the UAE legislation and policies supportive of women empowerment, the minister said: “The UAE consistently seeks to implement new legislations to benefit the community. When the UAE launched the Mars Hope mission, the country was also working on a new policy to protect senior citizens and determine a criteria to measure social cohesion and improve living standards. These community efforts were led by the Ministry of Community Development with the launch of several pillars to increase the participation of women in our society and their contribution to the country’s economic development.”

National symbol

During her speech, Dr Maitha Al Shamsi hailed Sheikha Manal praised the team behind the success of this report. The report highlights the UAE’s successful journey in providing women with equal career advancement opportunities, which encourage them to take on leadership positions, enabling them to be true partners in strengthening the nation’s capabilities and its development.

She added that the report is a national symbol of the UAE’s wise leadership’s ongoing commitment on gender balance and showcases the country’s commitment to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and enhance its ranking in global competitiveness reports.

She further said that gender balance has always played an integral role within UAE society and remains a key national priority for the country’s future. The remarkable progress that we see today, concerning women’s participation and their many achievements within various fields, is the result of a vision, based upon this principle – with efficiency and the ability to give back, as the main drivers of excellence, the minister said.

She also highlighted the remarkable contributions, initiatives and valuable projects led by Sheikha Fatima over the years to support women and provide them with the opportunity to work side-by-side with men across all sectors, and to prove themselves and their capabilities in serving the nation and supporting its progress

Gender balance mechanisms and women’s future role

The minister touched on the stages of women empowerment and the progress made in literacy and economic participation, while highlighting gender balance’s most important mechanisms and the role of government entities in achieving this with the help of the vision and directives of the wise leadership.

Dr Maitha also hailed the UAE’s support to women, the legislations that provide them with greater opportunities to participate in economic development, as well as the decision-making positions they have reached across sectors and activities including economic, educational, health, political, social and cultural fields in both public and private sector.

The report represents the Council’s most significant achievement since its launch in 2015, thanks to the support of the UAE’s wise leadership, as well as local and international partners.

It also outlines best practices and policies designed to promote gender balance between men and women in terms of work conditions, merits, rights and responsibilities, which have led to the increased participation of women in society and decision-making positions, as well as their contribution to the country’s economic development. The report also promotes the UAE’s status as a benchmark for gender balance legislation.

The report can be seen on the website of the UAE Gender Balance Council.