UN Women Adopts ‘Sharjah Declaration’ for the Rights and Empowerment of Women and Girls

Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi during the closing ceremony of IIFMENA


The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) has announced the adoption of the ‘Sharjah Declaration’ that aims to strengthen the resilience of women and girls in the Arab region, on the closing session of the Investing in the Future Conference yesterday (Thursday).

The ‘Sharjah Declaration’ was announced with the blessings of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhamad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohamed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), Chairperson of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment.

The second Investing in the Future Conference, which took place on October 19 and 20 at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre, and was held under the theme ‘Building the Resilience of Women and Girls in the Arab Region’, was organised by TBHF and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

The closing ceremony saw the attendance of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA); HE Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance; Sheikh Salem Bin Abdul Rahman Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Ruler’s Office; international representatives from government and non-government organisations, decision-makers, academics, and field experts.

Dr. Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, has commended the efforts of conference partners and the hospitality of Sharjah. She stressed the importance of continuing to build partnerships among governments, international organizations, civil society organizations and youth groups to change negative gender stereotypes.

Mohammad Naciri, UN Women Regional Director for Arab States, delivered the Sharjah Declaration for the Rights and Empowerment of Women and Girls.

Representatives of states, governments, international organisations and civil society institutions recognise that it is not possible to build sustainable peace based on marginalisation and inequality, noting that women have a catalytic role as agents of change and as leaders in reconciliation and peace-building.

Participants emphasised the important role of women as agents of economic stabilisation and growth and that economic outcomes are more likely to be inclusive when women are involved.

Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi lauded efforts by representatives from government and non-government organisations, as well as representatives from UN organisations and civil bodies who contributed to drafting the Sharjah Declaration, which aims to strengthen the resilience of women and girls in the Arab region.

Sheikha Jawaher said: “Most principles stipulated in the Sharjah Declaration focus on the involvement of women and girls in promotion of peace and achieving stability, which is an extremely important issue amid the difficult conditions experienced by many countries in the region.”

She also called for the collection and analysis of data and statistical indicators on women’s participation in economic development in the Middle East, to promote women’s roles in business sectors.

In her keynote address during the ceremony, HE Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, said: “The natural equality between women and men is obvious. Both need to support each other.  Therefore, they must be equal in life opportunities and aspirations for a better future. We must concentrate our effort to promote gender integration to maintain human stability and cope with the inevitable changes and developments that come with time.”

Sheikha Lubna referred to a UN study that shows the UAE among top countries in women’s empowerment, with Emirati women representing 60% of the total national workforce. She emphasised that the nation should support women’s entrepreneurship at government level in its quest to consolidate the culture and attractiveness of entrepreneurship among female Emiratis.

In conclusion, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi said: “Supporting women entrepreneurs is a pillar to spur economic growth, since women’s entrepreneurial potential and capabilities have not yet been fully utilised. Women entrepreneurs can play a prominent role in leading the economy.”

Ambassador Ensa Makkawi, Manager of the Directorate of Women, Family and Childhood at the Arab League, said in a speech delivered on behalf of Ahmed Abou El Gheit, Secretary General of the Arab League, “We highly appreciate the unwavering efforts made by Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi through the Big Heart Foundation to support women’s issues on national and regional levels. This has culminated in launching the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment to grant women their full political, economic and social rights as key partners in community development.”

Makkawi concluded by saying: “We also appreciate the valuable efforts undertaken by UN Women on a regional level to protect women and girls and advance their positions. We have to work together to address all threats and risks facing the security and safety of women and girls, promote the values of true Islam and fight the culture of extremism that sparks such hatred. Equality and development cannot be achieved if there is no security and stability.”