UAE to advance women’s rights if elected to UN Security Council, envoy says

At current rates, women will lag behind men in the world’s parliaments for the next 130 years

People gather during an International Women's Day protest organised by Poland's Women's Strike in Warsaw, Poland March 8, 2021. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel ​
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The UAE will work to advance the role of women globally if elected to the Security Council this year, Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN, said.

She said women are underrepresented in parliaments and in coronavirus response teams globally.

At current rates, men will continue to outnumber women in top leadership roles for the next 130 years, she said on International Women's Day on Monday.

“We don't have 130 years to wait,” Ms Nusseibeh said.

“I hope that we all move forward on this day thinking about this moment of transition and transformation that we would like to see this opportunity build for us out of the pandemic, a moment of hope.”

Ms Nusseibeh made her comments during an online event hosted by India to mark International Women’s Day.

The UAE is running for one of the UN Security Council’s temporary two-year seats that will open up on January 1, 2022.

“The UAE is a candidate to sit in the Security Council with India next year,” Ms Nusseibeh said.

"We really look forward to working on this file, specifically on the council, among many others.”

The UN’s 15-nation body has pushed for women’s rights for decades, notably in a resolution from 2000 that tackles sexual violence in war zones and pushes for more women peace negotiators.

But progress is slow. Men are expected to outnumber women in parliaments and other top leadership roles until about 2150, according to a report released on Monday by UN Women.

Only three countries in the world had 50 per cent or more women in their parliaments, it said.

Women aged under 30 made up less than one per cent of the world's parliamentarians, it added.

Likewise, women were poorly represented on teams tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

Only a handful of task forces in 87 countries studied had gender parity among their pandemic response teams.

Ms Nusseibeh said government quotas can be effective at addressing imbalances, but women must stand up for themselves.

"Believing in yourself, but also developing a tougher skin is essential, as we try to close that gender gap," she said.

In a statement, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for more women in top government jobs. He said gender equality was “essentially a question of power”.

“A male-dominated world and a male-dominated culture will yield male-dominated results,” Mr Guterres said.

“These solutions can only be found through shared leadership and decision-making; and through the full realisation of women’s rights, including the right to equal participation.”