Abu Dhabi to host UN conference promoting women's role in peacebuilding

Delegates will discuss ways to increase the representation of female military personnel in UN peacekeeping operations

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Abu Dhabi will host a UN conference to advance the participation of women in peacemaking and conflict prevention across the world.

Held under the patronage of Sheikha Fatima, Mother of the Nation and Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, the high-level International Conference on Women, Peace and Security, will take place on September 8, 9 and 10.

The conference will review the achievements and challenges in the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

Passed in 2020, the first landmark Security Council resolution on women, peace and security addresses the impact of war on women and the importance of their full and equal participation in conflict resolution, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction.

It also aims to protect women from violence.

The Ministry of Defence has supported the training of more than 350 women at the Khawla Bint Al-Azwar Military School
Mohammed Ahmed Al Falasi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs

The conference also seeks to achieve consensus on procedures to implement the UAE National Action Plan, which aims to empower and support women globally by promoting adherence to UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

The conference will review the work done by the General Women's Union in supporting the Women, Peace and Security Agenda at the international level.

It will also assess the impact of the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Women Peace and Security Initiative, which promotes the role played by women in decision-making and policies more effectively.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, said the UAE is committed to achieving gender equality and promoting the role of women in society, especially in light of its current non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council.

Mohammed Ahmed Al Bawardi Al Falasi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs, said that by organising the conference, the UAE wants to emphasise the importance of the role of women in global peace and security.

“All stakeholders have worked to develop the military capabilities of women and their knowledge of the foundations of peacekeeping,” he said.

“The Ministry of Defence has supported the training of more than 350 women from various Arab, Asian, and African countries at the Khawla Bint Al-Azwar Military School with great success and we will continue to implement these training programmes.”

Military cadets parade during a graduation ceremony at Khalifa bin Zayed Air College in 2021. Photo: Presidential Court

The Khawla Bint Al-Azwar Military School opened in 2014 and is the Gulf region's first military college for women.

After completing their training, the women can be sent to military and civilian areas to provide support, protect women's rights and help reduce sexual violence.

The UAE also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UN Women in September 2018, to develop the capabilities of Arab women in military and peacekeeping operations.

Noura Al Suwaidi, Secretary General of the General Women’s Union said the conference will help in creating an empowering environment for women and raise awareness of the issue.

Women in peacekeeping

According to UN data, in 1993 women made up 1 per cent of deployed uniformed personnel.

In 2020, of approximately 95,000 peacekeepers, women constituted 4.8 per cent of military contingents and 10.9 per cent of formed police units, that are pledged by member states to UN missions, and 34 per cent of justice and corrections government-provided personnel in UN Peacekeeping missions.

The UN's 2028 target for women serving in military contingents is to push it to 15 per cent, and 25 per cent for military observers and staff officers. For formed police units, the target is 20 per cent.

Dr Mouza Al Shehhi, director of the UN Women Liaison Office for the GCC, said: “Women have long been doing important work in peacebuilding in many conflict zones, but there is a sharp contrast with their participation in formal peace negotiations, where women still largely do not play any formal roles.

“Between 1992 and 2019, on average, only 13 per cent of negotiators were women, although studies show that women’s participation increases opportunities for sustainable peace and leads to agreements containing more provisions that benefit women and men equally.

“The conference aims, through its various sessions, to bring together decision-makers and stakeholders from different countries to analyse the role of women in peace and security, in line with the objectives of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325."

The conference will be organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in partnership with the Ministry of Defence, the General Women's Union, UN Women, the League of Arab States and the Abu Dhabi Ports Group.

Several international decision-makers, senior officials, diplomats, and advocates of women's role in peacebuilding are expected to participate.

Inside the UAE’s first military college for women — in pictures

Updated: September 01, 2022, 12:02 PM