Since their signing two years ago, the Abraham Accords have reflected a significant expression of change, even a breakthrough in the regional normalization with Israel. Furthermore, they have set a wide range of opportunities coupled with many hopes for creating new partnerships with Israel in the region.
Beyond common interests on the strategic and political levels, the Accords created many expectations for deepening the scope of
cooperation between people of the private sector in the Gulf states and Israel and to enhance the people-to-people (PTP) aspect in the developing bilateral and regional relations. This dimension is crucial for changing
and removing prejudice and misconceptions while safeguarding stability and commitment to the Accords.
As Israel’s first Special Envoy for Women, Peace & Security I saw Expo Dubai as a unique opportunity to initiate a dialogue and discussion among women from the UAE and the region together with Israeli women about the meaning of peace & security.
UNSCR 1325 which was adopted in October 2000 talked about WPS in the context of armed conflict. However, today’s global challenges (pandemics, climate change, global warming, food security, etc.) are undoubtedly obligating us to address them within a broader outlook. An overarching concept of national security and national resilience should be regarded as a common agenda for a dialogue and exchange of ideas. Formulating sustainable solutions where women’s participation and contribution is
significant and acknowledged is crucial to achieving this agenda.
I offered to start such a discussion in our Pavilion in Expo Dubai and to bring along a delegation of six Israeli accomplished women in the fields of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI ) so that each one of them would share best practices about engaging young women and girls to study these fields, empowering them to excellence and creating solidarity and bonding among them to support each other in paving their way to become leaders in their area of expertise. Once they are recognized for their professional contribution, they will also become part of decision-making processes and have an equal role in shaping sustainability solutions for the benefit of our countries.
Since it was the first WPS event in the context of the Abraham Accords I was looking for contacts in the UAE and Bahrain and was fortunate to be introduced to the UIBC.It was encouraging to feel the immediate enthusiasm and support, right from the beginning.
Thanks to our mutual effort, we had prominent women from UAE and Bahrain and both my colleagues, the Special Envoys of Sweden and Canada together with the ambassadors in the UAE sponsored and participated in the events.
The two panels showed the vast potential of such a dialogue among women of the region and the exchange with experts, both men and women from different countries. Let me acknowledge the participation of H.H. Sheikha Rana Bint Issa Al-Khalifa, the Secretary General of the Higher Education Council in Bahrain, and the Acting Director of H.M Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Center for WPS in UAE, Ms. Anud Youssef. We had also the permanent representative of the UNPEACE University and the Chair of the OECD-MENA Forum for women economic empowerment among our panelists.
The fruitful discussion that took place proved to be vital and inspiring. Women and men bring different perspectives and a richer, more vibrant and multi dimensional set of possible solutions.
Gender equality should not become a mere slogan for “political correctness” but a matter of common interest for humanity and the global community.
There is no longer any doubt that corporate boards with a greater proportion of women tend to be better governed, more accountable and generate better return on investment.
Businesses benefit from gender diversity. Getting gender balance right today will pay dividends tomorrow. If women were provided the resources to reach their collective economic potential, it wouldn’t just be a win for women. It would mean more jobs for men, too, and more prosperity for everybody.
I hope we have made a first successful effort in the regional context.