UAE highlights the plight of women living in conflict zones

There is "deep concern" in the UAE about the condition of women living in conflict zones and areas subject to foreign occupation.

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ABU DHABI // There is "deep concern" in the UAE about the condition of women living in conflict zones and areas subject to foreign occupation, including those in the Palestinian Territories. "We call upon the international community to provide the necessary support and assistance to the Palestinian women and people," said Dr Maitha al Shamsi, a Minister of State, according to the state news agency, WAM.

Dr al Shamsi was speaking at the Ministerial Conference of Non-Aligned Movement, which is being held in Guatemala and is especially looking at the condition of women. Representatives from 72 member countries were present. Dr al Shamsi urged the international movement, whose members avoid formal alignment with or against any major power bloc, to "speed up the efforts to reach a comprehensive and permanent peaceful solution for the Palestinian question".

The six GCC nations are among the 118 members of the movement, which was founded by Jawaharlal Nehru, the former Indian prime minister, in 1955. "We continue our support to regional efforts to advance education and health services and lift the suffering of the Palestinian women," said Dr al Shamsi. Almost 1,300 people died during the three weeks of sustained Israeli military attacks in Gaza, including 300 children and 100 women, Palestinian rights groups report. There are about 40,000 pregnant women in the coastal enclave, with 170 giving birth each day, according to the charity CARE International.

Dr al Shamsi also addressed the rising profile of women in the Emirates. "Women participate actively in the decision-making process on the highest level where they occupy 22 per cent of seats in the Federal National Council," she said, "and the new Cabinet includes four women ministers." "We have achieved concrete results in gender equality in areas such as education, health care and work." More than 70 per cent of UAE university graduates are women, while the number of women holding master's degrees and PhDs also continues to rise.

Women account for 59 per cent of the national workforce and hold 66 per cent of public sector jobs, 30 per cent of them in leading positions. mhabboush@thenational.ae