By Hatem Hussein
DUBAI, 3rd March, 2022 (WAM) — A European Union diplomat has hailed the “strong partnership” between the European Union and the UAE as conducive to advancing women’s empowerment.
“We remain committed to working with our partners in the UAE and across the region to advance women’s empowerment across all sectors,” the ambassador of the EU to the United Arab Emirates said in written statements to the Emirates News Agency (WAM) ahead of the International Women’s Day, observed worldwide on March 8.
“The EU and the UAE have a strong partnership, and we look forward to further enhancing our cooperation in the years and decades to come,” Andrea Matteo Fontana, who is also the Commissioner-General of the EU to Expo 2020 Dubai, added.
Casting a specific light on the issue of gender inequality, the European official said that it’s “not an issue that can be addressed on its own.”
“If we are to make a meaningful headway to reduce the gender gap, we should integrate a gender perspective into the preparation, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, regulatory measures and spending programmes to promote equality and tackle gender-based discrimination in all walks of life.
“Gender mainstreaming is placed at the heart of the EU Gender Action Plan III for 2021-2025, an ambitious framework to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment through all external action of the EU. We remain committed to working with our partners in the UAE and across the region to advance women’s empowerment across all sectors.”
He, in this respect, acclaimed Expo 2020 Dubai as “a remarkable opportunity to highlight women’s potential and their contributions to various fields that were, in the past, mostly accessible to men. The significance of having the first Pavilion dedicated to women’s achievements and successes in the first Universal Exhibition taking place in the Middle East and Africa goes beyond the symbolism.
“As a global gathering, Expo provides an inspirational platform to share experiences, success factors and lessons learned from around the world, recognising the urgency to tackle gender-based discrimination and break the glass ceiling in all walks of life. This is particularly crucial in a post-pandemic context, as COVID-19 accelerated the gender gap, with women and girls being among the groups most negatively impacted by it.
“As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us not forget the instrumental role that men play in enabling gender equality and championing gender-sensitive policies. Gender inequality has a significant economic and social cost, not only for women, but for the society as a whole. That is why men and women, girls and boys, must all come together, united in one vision to achieve equality for all.”
“Inclusivity and equality with a special attention to women’s empowerment,” Fontana continued, is one of the “five themes the European Union has focused on throughout the Expo, confirming our commitment to build a Union of Equals.
“On the International Women’s Day, we are re-affirming this commitment through a series of high-level panel discussions co-organised with our Member States, by actively contributing to the activities planned by the Women’s Pavilion and other international partners. Our participation at EXPO is closely co-ordinated with the EU Member States and their pavilions, following what we call the Team Europe approach.
“On 7th March, we are co-organising with France, two panel discussions, focusing respectively on structural changes for increased women’s participation in politics and STEM professions. On 8th March in collaboration with the Italian Pavilion, we are co-hosting a second set of high-level discussions on the role of women in institutions and culture.
“In addition to organising events with our Member States, we have also actively contributed to the programme and the activities of the Women Pavilion. We have expressed our support to the ‘Break the Bias’ pledge and three of the European Commission Vice Presidents have contributed to the Letter to the Future Generation Initiative. We are also going to participate in the UN Women SDG5 Summit, which will take place on 9th March.”
He highlighted another event the EU will hold on March 8 in partnership with Italy, under the title “Women’s Status in Institutions and Culture”. It features two thematic panels. The first will examine the institutional gender dimension by sharing best practices from the EU and the GCC, including in the justice sector. The second panel will examine women’s participation in the cultural and creative sectors and gender responsive policies to guarantee equal participation at equal conditions, namely in funding and finance, to women working in music, painting, fashion design and other art expressions.
The diplomat hailed the role played by the world’s greatest show in bringing “the world together again. “The past six months,” he continued, have been “instrumental in continuing the global conversation on the critical issues of our time – from climate change to public health, and from economic resilience to technology disruptions that are shaping the world of today and tomorrow.
“Indeed, many senior EU leaders, including Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – the EU’s chief diplomat and many Heads of States from across Europe visited the Expo and held bilateral meetings with UAE officials.
“Through these dialogues, we have identified areas of mutual interest and areas where we can add value and look forward to exploring these further. Expo 2020 Dubai has also been a platform for learning, partnerships and innovative thinking. It has also enabled closer people-to-people relationships.”
Fontana concluded by congratulating the “leaders of the United Arab Emirates and the Expo organisers for a fantastic, creative and stimulating 182 days and for encouraging constructive dialogue among nations.”