Opening session of International Conference on Women, Peace, and Security sees participation of high-profile officials

ABU DHABI, 8th September, 2022 (WAM) -- The International Conference on Women, Peace and Security (ICWPS), co-organised by the General Women’s Union, UN Women and Ministry of Defence, was inaugurated by H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union (GWU), President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF), and the "Mother of the Nation", in a speech delivered by Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan who welcomed the audiences to Abu Dhabi.

During her speech, H.H Sheikha Fatima also welcomed Dr. Sima Sami Bahous, Executive Director of UN Women, who is on her first official visit to the UAE as Head of UN Women, as she delivered the keynote speech at the ICWPS, which is taking place in Abu Dhabi between 8th and 10th September.

The opening session saw participation from several high-profile officials, including Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bowardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, Dr. Sima Sami Bahous, Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the UAE to the United Nations (UN), Dr. Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, Assistant Secretary-General of the League of Arab States (Arab League) and Head of the Social Affairs Sector, Dr. Nayef Falah Al Hajraf, Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and Abdullah Al Hamli, CEO, Economic Cities and Free Zones, Abu Dhabi Ports Group.

In his speech, Al Bowardi said, "The convening of this conference is a result of the existing cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the UAE Ministry of Defence, the General Women’s Union, UN Women and the League of Arab States, emphasising the efforts of the United Arab Emirates to advance the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and our support, as a major partner, in implementing it, and empowering women in the military and security fields, in addition to their other roles."

On this occasion, Noura Al Suwaidi, Secretary-General of the General Women's Union, said, "We are proud to organise the International Conference on Women, Peace and Security, under the generous patronage of H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, and in collaboration with our strategic partners from national and international agencies. In line with the vision of the General Women’s Union, we seek to proactively empower women in all sectors and fields, including peace and security, and to strengthen dialogue and drive partnerships that help us achieve security, stability, and development for societies worldwide."

Dr. Sima Bahous, Executive Director, UN Women, said, "UN Women and its partners around the world are striving to advance the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, but we need the international community, including all regional organisations, to stand in solidarity with us, so that we can fully fulfill the commitments we made to women and girls in conflict areas and survivors of violence. We must listen carefully to the voices of women; this is our only way to restore balance, and gain opportunities for peace that will not be achieved without this synergy, so let us stand together for our common values. The peace and security we aspire to will only be possible when women play a central role. I commend the UAE for championing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in the Security Council and for rallying efforts to advance it in the region and globally."

Falah Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Ports Group, expressed his deep gratitude to H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, for her patronage of this important event, which symbolises the position of the United Arab Emirates and its leadership on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, including the launch of the UAE National Plan (NAP) in response to UN Security Council Resolution 1325, as the first NAP to be launched in the GCC. He noted that organising the conference in the capital Abu Dhabi signals the unwavering commitment of the government to support peace and security in all countries.

Day one of the conference featured three panel discussions. The first session, titled "Women Driving Peace", focused on the current global landscape of the WPS Agenda, assessing barriers and the importance of converting resolutions to solutions. It saw participation from Pramila Patten, United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Jacqueline O’Neill, Canada’s First Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security and Hala Mohammed Jaber Al Ansari, Secretary-General, Supreme Council for Women, Bahrain, and other high-profile advocates from regional organisations and non-profit organisations that focus on advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda in Africa and Asia. The session showcased the leadership of women in conflict and post-conflict zones, presented the most prominent successes and challenges, facing the successful implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.

The second session, which was held under the title "Women Transforming Security: Changing the Landscape of Peacekeeping", reviewed the status of women in UN peacekeeping forces, the main obstacles and challenges, in addition to celebrating women's contributions to the security sector, highlighting success stories and experiences of some of the cadets of the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Women, Peace and Security Initiative. The final session of day one covered inclusive peace processes and how the participation of women in political processes and conflict resolutions is proven to result in more sustainable and longer lasting peace.

Day two conference programme will include four sessions, and will be inaugurated by Dr. Mouza Al Shehhi, Director of the UN Women Liaison Office for the GCC, while the third day will witness a high-level Ministerial Conference on Promoting Women’s Role in Conflict-affected and Post-conflict Societies, led by League of Arab States with the participation of international decision-makers, senior officials, diplomats and advocates concerned with Women, Peace and Security in the Arab region and the world.