Excluding women 'no longer acceptable', says UAE Minister of State

Noura Al Kaabi decries Afghanistan's systematic erasure of women from public life

UAE Minister of State Noura Al Kaabi spoke at a ministerial debate on women, peace and security on Tuesday. Victor Besa / The National
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Despite global advances towards gender equality, women and girls are often still excluded from decision-making — something Noura Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of State, told the UN Security Council is “no longer acceptable”.

“The message is clear: Globally, with every one step forward for women and girls, we take two steps back,” said Ms Al Kaabi on Tuesday at a ministerial debate on women, peace and security ahead of International Women’s Day.

“As the UAE prepares to host Cop28, two thirds of the UAE’s leadership team and more than half of the management team are women.

“Excuses for excluding women are no longer acceptable and we must all hold ourselves to the same standards.”

She pointed to the situation of Afghan women and girls, who are being systematically erased from their society, and called for their roles to be strengthened throughout the entire “conflict continuum”.

On Monday, young Afghan women gathered outside Kabul University to protest against the Taliban’s ban on female education, a restriction a new UN report said could amount to “a crime against humanity”.

The UN document, presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, also noted the rise in forced and child marriages, the ban on women from public spaces such as parks and gyms, and other restrictions that limit women's ability to work and travel independently.

During the Security Council meeting, US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield accused the Taliban of reneging on its promises to the international community and to Afghan women by enacting “draconian, oppressive” measures against them.

She called on the council to insist the Taliban reverse these “horrific edicts and honour its commitment to the people of Afghanistan”.

Ms Thomas-Greenfield told reporters on Tuesday that the US remains deeply committed to protecting and advancing the rights of women and girls at home and around the world, and stressed that she would never “shy away” from the fact that the US faces its own challenges.

“The right to make intensely personal choices free from the interference of politicians has been stripped away from millions and millions of women in the United States,” she said.

“I have travelled the globe advocating for women’s rights, and it pains me to know that so many in my own country want to undo fundamental rights.”

In 2000, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1325, recognising the critical role of women in maintaining peace and security. It urged all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all UN peace and security efforts.

Updated: March 08, 2023, 9:32 AM