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UAE calls for more efforts to improve the condition of women

posted on 05/03/2008: 1160 views



New York - The United Arab Emirates has called for continuous international efforts to boost political and financial support to help improve the condition of millions of women in developing countries and to help them overcome serious challenges including poverty, diseases and armed conflicts. The UAE also called for more support for Palestinian women and the Palestinian people, in general, to expedite action to find a lasting solution to the Palestinian issue to bring an end to the sufferings of the Palestinian people brought on them by the ill practices of the Israeli occupation, which is of great concern to the UAE.

The UAE permanent ambassador to the United Nations, Ahmed Abdul Rahman Al-Jarman, Monday made the statement in the UAE's address during the 52nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women on item (3) entitled: Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on women and to the special session of the General Assembly entitled 'Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first'.

The commission, which began its sessions on February 25 and will continue until March 7, is reviewing what had been implemented so far from the recommendations issued by the 4th International Women's Conference.

The session addressed a number of issues posing serious challenges to women, including closing education gender gap, equal labour market access, inequality and HIV/AIDS, global gender architecture and other issues on great concern.

Al-Jarman said the United Arab Emirates had made great strides in gender equality and eliminating all forms of discrimination against women, adding that women are now being represented in some of the highest level legislative, executive and juridical posts.

'The new Cabinet included four women ministers and women occupied 22 per cent of the seats in the Federal National Council and 20 per cent of the diplomatic field. The law of the judicial system had been amended to allow women to participate in it. The Government had set up seven national mechanisms that were directly concerned with women's and children's affairs, including the Family Development Foundation, set up in 2006 to develop and monitor implementation of women's advancements strategies. The Foundation recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations Development Fund for Women to strengthen the Foundation's capacities and update the National Strategy for Women,' he stated.

He pointed out that the UAE had achieved concrete results in gender equality in many areas, such as education, health care and employment. He said the percentage of girls enrolled in primary school is equal that of boys, while in higher levels of education, girls surpassed boys in terms of enrolment. On job opportunity, he said women form 22.4 per cent of the total workforce and occupy 66 per cent of public-sector jobs, 30 per cent of which are leadership and decision-making posts.

Regarding economic empowerment of women in the UAE, Al-Jarman said the Government had set up the 'Productive Families Programme' to help women who could not work outside their homes. That programme aimed at improving the financial resources of limited-income families, adding that the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry helped create the Business Women's Council to promote private investments by women.

Following is Al-Jarman's full statement: Mr. Chairman, The UAE is committed to implement the recommendations and the outcomes of all the international conferences and summits on women, including the Beijing plan of action and the outcome of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly, motivated by a conviction that implementing these recommendations is an imperative requirement to reach the internationally agreed on development goals. Therefore, the UAE was very keen on joining the regional and international conventions on women and the family, such as CEDAW. In addition we are parties to nine international treaties on working conditions for women; working hours and equal pay. We have been consistent in providing reports on many issues regarding women, children and family to the relevant entities in the UN, in compliance with the provisions of those treaties.

The UAE realised since its foundation that women are key partners in the process of sustainable development which we endeavour to achieve in the country in order to lay down the foundations for the modern state. Accordingly, the provisions of the constitution of the UAE, emphasized equality among citizens from both sexes, in rights and duties, including work, social security, entitlement, equal opportunities in all fields and the enjoyment of all educational facilities, health and social care, all of which are consistent with the Beijing Declaration and the outcome of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly. On the other hand, my country has realized that woman's issues cannot be addressed separately from the general social and economic situation of the whole society. Hence, the concepts of gender equality, advancement and empowerment of women were integrated within the comprehensive programs of sustainable development in the country. Therefore women's issues gained attention, political and financial support on the highest levels in the state and all relevant official and civil institutions participated in meeting their needs.

Mr. Chairman, The UAE has accomplished great achievements in gender equality and eliminating all forms of discrimination against women in all areas, the most prominent of which is her representation in the legislative, executive and juristic powers and occupying a number of the highest positions in all areas. It is worth mentioning in this context that the new Cabinet includes four women ministers, and women occupy 22% of seats in the Federal National Council and 20% of the diplomatic field. In addition to that, we amended the law of the judicial system to allow women to participate in it.

The Government has established seven national mechanisms which are directly concerned with women and children's affairs, the latest of which is the Family Development Foundation, established in 2006 for making strategies to advance women status and oversight the implementation of those strategies. Recently, the Foundation had signed a memorandum of understanding with United Nations Fund for Women Development to strengthen the foundation capacities and update the National Strategy for Women in the UAE.

We have achieved concrete results in gender equality in many areas such as education, health care and work. The percentage of girls enrolled in elementary schools is equal to boys which is estimated to be 83%. In higher stages of education, girls supersede boys where they comprise 77% of the total number of students in universities with a constant increase in women holding Masters and PhDs. Women form 22, 4 % of the total work force in the country, where they occupy 66% of jobs in the public sector of which 30% are of leadership and decision making positions.

To assist women who cannot work away from their families, the government established 'Program Productive families', which seeks improve the financial resources of limited income families and transform them from dependent families to contributing ones. And to promote private investments by women, the Union of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in the country helped in the establishment of the Business Women Council. It is estimated that investments run by women amount to 12.5 billion ED (about 4 billion US dollars).

Mr. Chairman, Children under 18 form 35% of the population; we consider them the real asset and the future of the society. Therefore, we are keen on providing them with economic, social and psychological security and protecting their rights in compliance with the provisions of the convention on the rights of the child in addition to a number of national laws and regulations that ensure the protection of their rights and ensuring a nourishing and decent life for them where they are protected from all forms of exploitation and violence, including forced marriage, trafficking, and physical and psychological abuse.

Mr. Chairman, We are deeply concerned about the suffering of the Palestinian women and children who are living in dire economic and humanitarian conditions due to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the continued violence there. We call upon the international community to provide the necessary support and assistance to the Palestinian women and people, and speed up the efforts to reach a comprehensive and permanent peaceful solution for the Palestinian question. In conclusion, we urge for the continuation of the international efforts to enhance the international political and financial support for millions of women in the developing countries who are suffering from poverty, serious diseases and armed conflicts, so that they can improve their living conditions to comply with the principles of the Charter, Human Rights, the recommendations of the Millennium declaration and the Beijing Plan of Action. - Emirates News Agency, WAM

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