Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
The trek through life is bearable as well as meaningful when the woman’s “gender lens” is included and the UAE commitment for this perspective to blossom worldwide is captured at the historic Women’s Pavilion of the Expo 2020 Dubai.
UAE Gender Balance Council Secretary General Shamsa Saleh discussed this and the provision of equal opportunities for growth and progress to both men and women recently with Gulf Today. She believes that betterment springs from diversity which stems from equality being DNA-ed. She believes that parents have the enormous duty to show how; first by respecting each other.
The UAE Gender Balance Council was formed in 2015. It is chaired by Sheikha Manal Bint Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Women’s Establishment and Wife of Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs. It is a federal entity responsible for developing and implementing the gender balance agenda in the UAE. It is the “advisory body” to government agencies tasked to enforce the gender balance agenda. Its main objective is to have the country at least at par with all the requirements for gender balance in both the public and private sectors, in accordance with international benchmarks laid down by global bodies like the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Pointing out that no one must be left behind through all available prospects for growth and advancements, Saleh added the council achieves this through gender balance legislation emanating from public and private consultations.
She traced the birth of the Women’s Pavilion, cooperated with the French luxury goods conglomerate Cartier International and endorsed by South African politician/former UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: “First of all, in all global events happening (here or abroad) and whether in the oil and gas industry or the manufacturing sector, for instance, the government purposely engage women. The government considers the woman’s portfolio as important as all the other portfolios.”
Situated at the Sustainability District, the pavilion was officially inaugurated on Oct. 28 by UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Expo 2020 Dubai Director General Reem Bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, UAE Gender Balance Council Vice President/Government of Dubai Media Office Director General Mona Ghanem, and Cartier International President and Chief Executive Officer Cyrille Vigneron.
Saleh said the pavilion is “for, of and by women.” She cited the UAE not only breaking down barriers but more importantly, climbing up the gender balance ladder. She stressed: “We also have the responsibility to help other countries experiencing (issues such as) violence against women. The Women’s Pavilion is the commitment of the UAE to achieving (worldwide gender balance).”
Saleh was hopeful that through the Women’s Pavilion, the UAE and specifically the council, spread inspirational stories of “female trailblazers from centuries past and the present who not only are influencers but have impacted the sciences, arts, culture and business. Like Moroccan lady Fatma Al Fahria who first established the world’s first university and philanthropist Dr. Manal Al Taryam who travels the world like in Africa and Bangladesh to personally cure and take care the blind.”
Fora, with both women and men experts as panelists, are five times a week at the most. These are to help everyone disengage from notions of stereotypes since “Expo 2020 reinforces the critical role of gender equality and women empowerment in safeguarding the future of humanity and our planet. These are to bring solutions to some of the pressing issues facing women and to empower them to contribute to the development of nations, to raise awareness on a host of challenges women face across the world including leadership roles, education, gender gap and legal rights.”
Saleh learnt a lot from the insights of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on leadership; Philippine Space Agency Director General Joel Joseph Marciano Jr. on women empowerment relative to the development of the space science and technology ecosystem; Macedonia First Lady Elizabeta Gjorgievska, a dentist and a speaker at the “Visions and Travels” segment.
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