mona al marri at wgs 2023 in dubai
Mona Al Marri addresses the gathering at WGS 2023 in Dubai on Tuesday Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Global Council on Sustainable Development Goal 5 (Gender Equality) today hosted a workshop at the World Government Summit (WGS) in Dubai to develop a policy note on preventing and addressing gender-based violence to advance women’s economic and political security.

The workshop was part of women empowerment initiatives at the ongoing 10th edition of WGS. The initiatives, including the Gender Balance Forum and the Women in Government Forum, are being held under the patronage of Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, President of the Dubai Women Establishment, and the wife of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court.

global council on sdg 5 at wgs 2023 in dubai on feb 14
The SDG 5 council is part of a wider network of similar groups Image Credit: Supplied

Established at the 2018 World Government Summit, the Global Councils on Sustainable Development Goals is a one-of-a-kind interdisciplinary network that brings together decision-makers from governments, international organisations, academia, charitable organisations, and the private sector to collaborate on innovative projects and discuss the creative implementation of the 17 SDGs at both national and global levels.

The Global Council on SDG 5 (Gender Equality) is chaired by Mona Al Marri, Vice President of the UAE Gender Balance Council. Al Marri welcomed Council members and thanked the workshop’s participants for their time, expertise, and willingness to discuss complex gender balance challenges and find new solutions to addressing longstanding gender gaps.

Central goal

In her opening address for the workshop, Al Marri said: “SDG 5, Gender Equality, is not a solitary goal. Without gender equality, it is difficult to achieve the other SDGs. Without the security and empowerment of women and girls, you can’t have safe cities, drive climate and energy reform, ensure human rights, embed proper education systems, or build any kind of sustainable society. A fundamental part of ensuring gender equality is protecting all people’s right to security and safety. That is why, this term, my Council is working to develop a Policy Note on Preventing and Addressing Gender-based Violence to Advance Women’s Economic and Political Security.”

Al Marri noted that despite the increasing awareness of the issue, gender-based violence remains a global challenge that needs the world to come together to address. “The statistics are well-known. In societies worldwide, women face more discrimination, violence, and harassment. This is simply a fact. The objective of today’s workshop is to discuss the specific challenges that continue to limit the advancement of women’s security – why does this challenge persist? What are the barriers to equality? What new threats are emerging, and how can we get ahead of them?”

Al Marri added: “The most important part of hosting such discussions is that we get to learn from one another. We are in the early stages of developing this project, and today’s input will be key to ensuring it is a helpful global tool.”

She thanked Elena Siegel, a member of the Global Council on SDG 5 and Partner at Kearney, for leading the workshop and the development of the project.

Siegel said: “Our Global Council’s aim this year is to develop a policy guideline to further reduce Gender-Based Violence, an issue that has global relevance. Today’s workshop brought together an extremely diverse group of local and international thought leaders to tackle this challenge. The rich insights from our discussion have sharpened our focus to areas like online harassment and violence, where new thinking can further enrich the current body of Gender Based Violence policy and programs. I look forward to continuing this important work during the virtual consultation we will run later in March to further build out the guideline.”

The diverse panel

Workshop participants included Martin Chungong, member of the Global Council on SDG 5 and Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union; Penny Naas, member of the Global Council on SDG 5 and UPS President for International Public Affairs and Sustainability; Maitha Shuaib, Vice President of Corporate Communications, DUCAB; Rola Abu Manneh, member of the Global Council on SDG 5 and CEO of Standard Chartered Bank UAE; Liz Beneski, Chief Executive Director of AmCham Abu Dhabi; Anna-Karin Rosén, Managing Director, Saab; Rashed Al Owais, Manager, Organisational Effectiveness, Emirates Group; Oliver Grohmann, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Emirates Group; Christina Struller, Vice President of Corporate Affairs for UPS in the Indian Subcontinent, Middle East, and Africa (ISMEA); Ana Kreacic, Chief Knowledge Officer of Oliver Wyman Group; Simone Filippini, President, Leadership4SDGs; Mary Hanafin, Mayor of a County in Dublin and Ireland’s former Minister for Education; Elmarie Potgieter, Managing Director, RITE; Rana Nawas, Partner, Transportation, Oliver Wyman; and Courtney Sader, General Counsel for Raytheon Emirates.

Members of the Global Council on SDG 5 come from the Inter-parliamentary Union, UPS, Kearney, Standard Chartered Bank, and the UAE Ministry of Economy. Participants collaborated during the interactive workshop to identify key focus areas for a crucial initiative aimed at recognising policy gaps and opportunities related to preventing and addressing gender-based violence, to enhance women’s economic and political stability.

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The discussions

The workshop assessed the current situation and plans on gender-based violence in different regions and countries of the world. The discussions focused on current programmes that were effective in different parts of the world, and gaps in gender-based violence policies worldwide. The workshop hosted insightful conversations around what could be done collectively to address gender-based violence in domains outside of the home, including online harassment and financial abuse, in the public and private sector, and in the political sphere.

The discussion was enriched by a range of perspectives brought under one roof by a diverse set of participants, who elaborated on what was needed to enhance policies and programs on gender-based violence. In this regard, the participants discussed what could be done to educate and raise awareness, provide access to justice, support for survivors and their dependents, and installing measurement tools.

Global Councils aim to foster partnerships between countries and organisations and implement innovative solutions through initiatives. Each Global Council is responsible for analysing, conceptualising, implementing, and measuring the impact of its work on a country level and reporting its progress to the World Government Summit’s “SDGs in Action” attendees annually.

The UAE Gender Balance Council is committed to strengthening its global partnerships as a critical aspect of its strategy. It aims to establish the UAE’s leadership and influence in the realm of gender balance and to increase the representation of women in leadership and the economy.

Under the guidance of its wise leadership, the UAE places great importance on gender balance and women’s empowerment and is eager to share its inspiring achievements with the global community. The country’s commitment to supporting international efforts to achieve gender balance is a testament to its sustainable approach.

At the World Government Summit 2023, leaders and officials from the government and private sectors, as well as representatives of international organisations with expertise in gender policies, are participating in discussions about the current status and opportunities for progress in gender balance and women’s participation in government, both locally and globally. The two forums provide a platform for dialogue and collaboration to accelerate progress towards SDG 5.