Women’s rights are a pillar of the UAE’s foreign policy, Minister of State Zaki Nusseibeh told a conference on sexual and gender-based violence in Oslo on Thursday.
A UAE delegation, lead by Mr Nusseibeh, co-hosted the "International Conference on Ending Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Humanitarian Crises" in the Norwegian capital on May 23 — 24.
The empowerment and protection of women is a “key pillar of the UAE’s strategy”, Mr Nusseibeh told delegates during his opening address.
“Women’s empowerment has always played an important role in the journey of the UAE’s development and has acted as a main driver of the country’s ascent to the global arena,” he said.
The UAE is committed to supporting women in conflict areas by providing financial support and support to NGOs to address gender inequality, said Mr Nusseibeh. Additionally, the Ministry of Defence has pledged to increase the number of women in peacekeeping operations following an agreement with UN Women, a UN organisation working for the empowerment of women.
"The United Arab Emirates is committed to the Conference’s objective to end gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies and crises, by providing the required financial resources needed to implement various women’s protection programmes and by providing support to NGOs and women-focused organisations active in vulnerable and conflict afflicted areas,” he said.
Mr Nusseibeh said ending all forms of gender-based violence requires supporting all international efforts. To that end, he said the UAE has invested $322 million (Dh1.2bn) for humanitarian initiatives and interventions focused on women and girls in the last five years.
The UAE held meetings to develop Abu Dhabi’s 'Every Woman, Every Child, Everywhere' project that supports women and children during humanitarian crises.
Closer to home, last year the President, Sheikh Khalifa, said 50 per cent of the semi-elected Federal National Council members must be women following the elections in October.
Currently, there are eight women members — representing 20 per cent of the 40 available seats.
“There isn’t a single parliamentary issue or debate that women have not played a role in. Political empowerment has given women great strength,” Naama Al Sharhan, the first woman to represent Ras al Khaimah in the FNC after winning a seat in the 2015 elections, said at the time.
“Women are the soul of parliament,” she said.
Last year, the Cabinet said it would work to get more women in to top jobs in the judiciary, diplomatic service and labour market in general. Federal laws introduced in 2015 also reiterated the necessity for equal wages for women.
Recent studies have charted women's stronger role in the UAE workplace, and shed light on the challenges that remain, including some social and patriarchal attitudes.