Mariam Al-Aqeel

NEW YORK: Despite the numbers of Kuwaiti women in the workplace being amongst the highest regionally, State Minister for Economic Affairs Mariam Al-Aqeel conceded that women face a lack of leadership opportunities. Speaking to United Nations women’s status commission talks, she said Kuwait is taking an “innovative working approach” to achieve the fifth UN Sustainable Development Goal on gender equality, through “empowering the local workforce.” It responds to the needs and aspirations of young people, girls and boys alike, to be partners in the decision-making and policy development process, she said, and to benefit from the experiences of their predecessors in this area. The plans are being spurred by the combined efforts of the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, Kuwait University Women’s Research and Studies Center, the UN Development Program and UN Women, she said. The initiative stems from the vision of His highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and falls in line with Kuwait’s ‘New Kuwait’ development strategy. Several indices have been placed as an objective, which the country aims to reach by 2030, she said.

According to Minister Aqeel, the plan, with an emphasis on the fifth goal, is the first of its kind in the Arab region. “This reflects Kuwait’s full commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of women in accordance with international obligations,” the minister underlined, in regards to the UN targets. She reflected on Kuwait’s dedication to women, through “building a secure and stable social network for women, in the form of laws and regulations that preserve their dignity, enshrined in the Kuwaiti constitution.” Through this direction, Kuwaiti women have been able to make numerous accomplishments in the political and economic domains, and violence against women has been limited. Despite gaining the right to vote and run for parliament in 2005, women’s chance of winning in the elections remains bound by social convictions, Aqeel commented. This is why the government has taken steps to organize a series of specialized workshops aimed at developing the leadership skills of those wishing to enter the political landscape. It has also approved measures to encourage a three-fold rise in companies, which are focused on empowering women.

Political participation
Meanwhile, Kuwait asserted that women’s political participation enhance peace and security at the national, regional and international levels. This came in the speech Aqeel delivered at the Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting on Women, Peace and Security. She highlighted several key issues, the most important of which was the centrality of women’s participation in political processes in light of the security challenges facing the Sahel region, the steps required to achieve women’s political empowerment and the role of the United Nations and international and regional organizations in promoting women’s participation in peace and security in the Sahel region. “Studies indicate that the role of women is central to all stages of the conflict,” she said, adding that success and sustainability of peace processes are increased by the extent of women’s involvement. She pointed out to the security challenges facing the Sahel region, with the continued deterioration of economic conditions and the consequences of climate change on the countries of the region, there is an escalating of conflict-related violence.

Aqeel referred to the affected people by these challenges, especially women and children, noting to a comprehensive solutions with developmental dimensions, in which women have an essential role in many sectors, including the military, civil, economic and political sectors. She stressed that it is the responsibility of Member States to ensure the political participation of women at all stages, stressing the importance of international and regional cooperation to prevent all forms of violence against women.In this context, she welcomed the appointment of 11 women out of 32 in the Government of Mali for the first time, and the Government thus achieved the goal of representing women by 30 percent in accordance with the 2015 Act on the Promotion of Gender Equality.

The Kuwaiti minister appreciated the regional initiatives taken by regional countries to involve women in the peace process, such as the launching of the G5 Sahel Women’s Platform and the initiatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to empower women.S he reiterated her support for the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and urged to complete and coordinate all ongoing efforts to ensure the successful participation of women in the peace process and development plans. “The Security Council has succeeded in setting a solid normative framework on women’s issues and peace and security in general in 70 resolutions,” she confirmed, adding that “We have a common challenge to implement these resolutions adequately, this is the same challenge facing the agenda of women and peace and security in general.”

“As next year 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325, we have a responsibility to redouble and join efforts to make progress in the effective implementation of the agenda of women, peace and security in general and in the Sahel in particular,” she said. – KUNA