UN Women, GWU organise virtual session titled ‘Women Parliamentarians: Ambition and Determination’

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ABU DHABI, 31st August, 2021 – The UN Women Liaison Office for the GCC, in partnership with the General Women’s Union (GWU), has organised a virtual discussion session entitled “Women Parliamentarians: Ambition, and Determination”, with the participation of prominent women parliamentarians from the UAE, Tanzania and Pakistan. The engaging dialogue shed light on the role of parliaments in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
The participants exchanged experiences in mitigating the disproportionate effects of the pandemic on women and girls, and highlighted the critical role of parliamentarians in assessing the evolving gender equality priorities and the empowerment of women and girls.
The key topics covered during the session – that coincided with Emirati Women’s Day – included the impact of COVID-19 on achieving national priorities on gender equality and women’s empowerment, and how parliaments, represented by the participants in the session, ensure that government interventions consider gender dimensions.
Noura Al Suwaidi, Secretary-General of the General Women’s Union, expressed her pride in the decree issued by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to allocate 50 percent of the Federal National Council’s seats for women in 2019, in an indication of the government’s commitment to empowering women and the country’s established efforts to increase women’s participation and representation.
From her side, Dr. Mouza Al Shehhi, Director of the UN Women Liaison Office for the GCC, highlighted, in a short welcoming speech, the critical role of women parliamentarians, not only at the political and leadership levels, but also in influencing public opinion, to achieve the best rates of women’s participation across all sectors. She also praised the UAE’s pioneering experience in women’s empowerment.
International participants in the session included Dr. Tulia Ackson, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of the United Republic of Tanzania who was elected as Member of Parliament from Mbeya Urban Constituency, under flagship of the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) during the General Election of 2020. She emphasised that the presence of a woman president in Tanzania ensured the establishment of frameworks that provide protection for women and the creation of several programmes to train youth and women, as well as the availability of financial support to enable women to establish their work and achieve economic independence.
From Pakistan, Sumera Shams, a Pakistani politician who was elected as a member of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in 2018, and the youngest person to be elected as a Member of the Provincial Assembly, said that the negative effects of COVID-19 on women around the world are similar, and that an increase in violence against women at home, as well as the economic repercussions, due to loss of income and increased household burdens that are often not shared and are the most concerning areas of impact.
From the UAE, Dr. Nidal Mohamed Al Tunaiji, Director-General of Zayed House for Islamic Culture, and Federal National Council Member, emphasised the comprehensive role of women and their impact on achieving justice and societal harmony, for the community as a whole and not just for Emirati women. She referred to the UAE’s proactive strategy and its success in containing most of the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The UAE has met the needs of all members of society during the pandemic equally, and the government took rapid and effective steps to provide support for working women, especially in the health and education sectors, including providing care facilities for the children of women frontline workers,” said Al Tunaiji.
Aisha Reda Al-Bairaq, a Federal National Council Member, and an ex-member of the Consultative Council of Sharjah, highlighted the role of culture in supporting women, and the positive impact of the leadership’s directives on women, in addition to the constitutional rights that have enabled women to be represented equally in the Federal National Council. She said that Emirati women have significant and meaningful contributions to the Federal National Council’s mandate, including, for example, their contribution to the development of the Public Health Law, a legislation that was praised for reflecting the needs of women during the pandemic.
Throughout the discussions, women parliamentarians reviewed efforts and strategies to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in their countries, in addition to innovative strategic partnerships, funding mechanisms and practices that can be applied to ensure gender-sensitive parliaments.

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