The first batch of Arab female peacekeepers have earned their stripes after graduating from a United Nations training programme in the UAE.
The military and peacekeeping initiative, operated by UN Women in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Defence and the General Women's Union, involved more than 130 women from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain and Sudan.
They were put through their paces in a three-month programme, which armed them with basic skills in peacekeeping and conflict resolution, including first aid and medical training, urban combat and field engineering.
In addition, recruits undertook physical fitness training with jiu-jitsu and military marching.
The graduates were honoured at a ceremony held in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
Held under the patronage of Sheikh Fatima bint Mubarak, the training scheme took place at the Khawla bint Al Azwar Military School, the first military academy in the UAE and GCC for women.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, under-secretary general of the United Nations and executive director of UN Women, heaped praise on the determined graduates.
“I really commend today’s graduates for exhibiting such leadership, mental and physical strength, flexibility, teamwork and integrity,” said Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka.
“I look forward to seeing the results of the skills and networks that they have built together.”
Dr Mouza Al Shehhi, executive director of the UN Women Liaison Office in Abu Dhabi, said the women who took part were pushed to their limits but persevered.
“Their success is meaningful on so many levels and it is not just a personal triumph, but also for women empowerment in the military sector as it signals a myriad of opportunities for thousands of women in our region and around the world,” she said.
“It gives them hope that today’s realities can be changed and that they can be part of this change.”
Recruits will now go on to the second stage, a two-week peacekeeping training programme, which starts on Wednesday.