(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The UAE Gender Balance Council recently received a delegation from the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) of the European Parliament, as part of its visit to the UAE. The meeting was held to boost collaboration and provide a platform for the exchange of experiences between the two parties.
The meeting, which was coordinated by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was attended by Mona Al Marri, vice-president of the UAE Gender Balance Council and Shamsa Saleh, secretary-general of the UAE Gender Balance Council. Mona Al Marri welcomed the visiting delegation and highlighted the strong relationship between the UAE and EU countries on various levels. Al Marri also introduced the Council, and discussed its mandate, initiatives, and ongoing projects, which will help the UAE to become a global role model for gender balance.
Al Marri explained that gender balance is an integral part of the UAE's culture, and how in order to strengthen the country's decades of achievements in this field, the UAE Gender Balance Council was founded in 2015 to narrow the gender gap across all sectors, enhance gender balance in decision-making positions, and support the UAE's vision to become one of the world's leading countries in gender balance.
"Achieving gender balance is a key national priority and supports the goals of the UAE Vision 2021, to increase the contribution of women in society and in the economic sector in particular," said Al Marri.
She also highlighted the Council's efforts, alongside all government entities, towards enhancing the UAE's global competitiveness. These efforts helped the UAE to become the top country in three related indicators for 2017, which include property rights between genders according to the Prosperity Index by the London-based Legatum Institute, literacy rate according to the Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum, and secondary enrolment gender gap (0-14) according to the World Economic Forum's Human Capital Report.
During the meeting with the delegation, which was led by Geoffrey Van Orden, vice-chairman of the ECR Group, Al Marri discussed the Council's mandate, which includes the recommendation of new regulations, policies, programmes, and innovative initiatives to support gender balance.
The ECR delegation also reviewed a number of the UAE Gender Balance Council's initiatives, including a proposal for gender responsive budgeting, developed in cooperation with the UAE Ministry of Finance and related government entities, and the launch of "The Gender Balance Guide: Actions for UAE Organisations," in September 2017. The Guide, which is the first-of-its-kind in the world, was developed in coordination with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as a tool to advance gender balance in the workplace, and as a reference for private and public organisations to narrow the gender gap.
The Gender Balance Index, which was launched by the Council in coordination with the Prime Minister's Office, was also discussed during the meeting. The Index has been incorporated into the UAE's national indicators and assesses the performance of government entities in enhancing gender balance, contributing to achieving the country's national objectives and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
Al Marri also highlighted the Council's "Global Gender Circle" initiative, which was launched to enhance women's economic empowerment through providing a dynamic platform for thought leaders from across the world to exchange ideas and develop progressive solutions. Each circle concludes with recommended actions and innovative initiatives to support the global gender agenda and SDG 5 - 'achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls'.