Abu Dhabi – In honour of International Day of Women in Diplomacy, the UAE Permanent Committee for Human Rights (PCHR) hosted an inspiring fireside chat on women’s participation in public policy, in collaboration with the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy (AGDA) and with conceptual support from the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL).

The event, which took place yesterday, saw government officials and diplomats come together from the UAE and Europe to explore how gender-inclusive policies and leadership can be facilitated. Women’s equal participation in public life is essential for advancing normative and legislative frameworks – whether from a human rights or sustainable development perspective. Together the speakers considered how enabling women to have a seat at the table is vital for developing inclusive and comprehensive policy across the board.

Hind Alowais, Director of the PCHR, opened the event by reflecting on the progress made to date, and the road ahead for widening access to decision-making processes. Celebrating the contributions of women in public service, Alowais spotlighted the inspirational stories of women who have made leading contributions to the fields of diplomacy, global peace and international development.

In her opening statement, Alowais reflected on the vision and efforts of the ‘Mother of the Nation’, HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union (GWU), Chairwoman of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation. HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak established the General Women’s Union by gathering together the women in her majlis and creating a network of organisations spanning all seven emirates, which became a landmark national platform for empowering women in all sectors, starting with education. 

Alowais stressed that women's full and equal participation in public policy not only requires political will, but a comprehensive framework of supportive policies, legal protections and institutional mechanisms that ensure women have the necessary resources and opportunities to engage effectively. With these frameworks in place, the UAE has been able to support women to hold prominent positions in public life.

From HE Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, and HE Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of Community Development – to HE Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28 and President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and HE Lana Nusseibeh, Assistant Minister for Political Affairs at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN – these women, along with many more, have played pioneering roles in policy development and diplomacy, in line with the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, our founding father, who was committed to ensuring women were recognised as equal partners in the building of the nation.

Moderated by Dr. Sara Chehab, Senior Research Fellow at AGDA, the fireside chat heard insights from distinguished speakers, which included: HE Antoine Delcourt, Ambassador of Belgium to the UAE; Afra Al Hameli, Director of Strategic Communications at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Roudha Alshehhi, Head of European Affairs Section at the UAE Federal National Council.

Together, the speakers agreed that international and national legislation plays a powerful role in ensuring women have equal opportunities in public policy and decision-making. From introducing special measures to address gender disparities, to bolstering legal protections via landmark frameworks such as the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action and other instruments.

HE Delcourt said: “We must lay the foundations for widening women’s participation by rolling out educational and professional development programmes that empower women to enter public service. From inspiring confidence, to encouraging leadership skills, we must equip the next generation of female talent to set them up for success.”

Afra Al Hameli said: “A commitment to women's participation in public policy is part of the DNA of the UAE. Emirati women have achieved remarkable milestones thanks to the guiding vision of our leadership who have significantly strengthened women's roles across all fields, and empowered women as vital partners in the country’s national development. Today, the UAE consistently ranks high on regional and global indices measuring women's empowerment, highlighting our country’s proactive stance in promoting gender parity.”

Roudha Alshehhi emphasised the importance of the fireside chat. She commented: “Gender equality and women’s empowerment are deeply rooted in Emirati culture and society. Throughout the UAE’s history, women have held influential positions in public life – and we’re particularly proud that women make up 50 per cent of the Federal National Council’s seats, as set by a directive by the late HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Great strides have been made – here and around the world – but there is always more work to be done. This is why events like this are so important to drive forward women’s participation in public policy.”

Dr. Chehab noted: “Education is the cornerstone of women’s empowerment, and vital for enabling women to lead and make vital contributions to diplomatic efforts across the globe. To truly champion women in public policy. we must provide all the support and resources available to open doors.”

Yesterday’s fireside chat forms part of an ongoing event series hosted by the UAE Permanent Committee for Human Rights and the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy, which provides a platform to exchange best practices in the implementation of human rights, while building on the UAE’s established tradition of working with international and regional partners to promote and protect universal human rights in accordance with international obligations.


For more information, please contact general.inquiries@pchr.gov.ae

About the UAE Permanent Committee for Human Rights

The Permanent Committee for Human Rights acts as the national liaison and coordinator between relevant human rights related bodies within the UAE to promote and protect human rights in the country. It also works closely with international human rights organisations and partner countries to support progress and prosperity of the global community.

The Permanent Committee for Human Rights (formerly named the National Human Rights Committee) was established by the Council of Ministers in October 2019. Its members include several UAE ministries and institutions.