Abu Dhabi hosted the official launch on Monday of the Arab Declaration to End All Forms of Violence against Women and Girls, with broad Emirati, Arab, and international participation.
The two-day high-level event, entitled “The Arab Declaration for the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women and Girls: Text and Means of Implementation,” was chaired by Her Excellency Hessa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, and Her Excellency Dr. Haifa Abu-Ghazaleh, Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the Social Affairs Sector at the League of Arab States. The event also included Her Excellency Noura Al Suwaidi, Secretary-General of the General Women's Union (GWU), and representatives of the European Union, Council of Europe, United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and Human Rights Office of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The event included a photo exhibition on combating violence against women and girls and alighted buildings in orange as part of the 16-day campaign to combat violence against women.
In her opening speech, Her Excellency Hessa Buhumaid affirmed that the launch of the Arab Declaration to End All Forms of Violence against Women and Girls in Abu Dhabi reflects the UAE’s efforts to empower women and improve their social standing.
Her Excellency added, "The launch of the declaration reflects a renewed commitment by Arab countries to adopt strategies to combat violence against women and instill peace, prosperity, and progress in society.”
Her Excellency continued, "Eliminating violence against women and girls is a key moral imperative. Women's rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights. Violence not only destroys women's lives and divides societies but also undermines development and efforts to build just, safe, and peaceful societies."
For her part, Her Excellency Dr. Haifa Abu-Ghazaleh congratulated the UAE on its 51st National Day, wishing the country further progress, prosperity, and stability. She noted that the convening of the event following UAE National Day celebrations underscores the country’s pioneering role in advancing women's rights.
Her Excellency continued: "Today’s event demonstrates the importance of unifying efforts across governments, national human rights institutions, women-focused entities, civil society, and media. In the Arab world, we are aware of the need to combat violence against women and girls through effective legal mechanisms that can prevent and respond to such violence.”
She added, "We particularly appreciate the role of H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union (GWU), President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF), in supporting the development of Emirati women at all levels."
For her part, Her Excellency Noura Al Suwaidi affirmed that the UAE has exerted significant effort to prevent and end violence against women, including through national legislation and the UAE Constitution itself, which guarantees gender equality. She noted that the UAE has amended personal status laws and issued a federal law on protection from domestic violence in recent years.
Her Excellency explained, "The UAE embraces the Arab Declaration to Combat All Forms of Violence against Women and Girls based on its firm belief that women maintain inalienable human rights and are key to achieving a sustainable future for coming generations.”
For her part, Mouza Al Shehhi, Executive Director of the UN Women Liaison Office for the GCC, said, "Against the backdrop of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, millions of women around the world continue to suffer from violence in various forms."
She continued: “According to UN Women data, approximately 45% of women reported that they or women they know have experienced violence, and seven out of ten women expressed that verbal or physical violence by a spouse or partner has become more prevalent. We must advance international efforts to combat gender-based violence and accurately define its scope so that we can take appropriate steps to hold its perpetrators accountable, drain its sources, and then eliminate it.”
The opening session was attended by Nada Al-Nashif, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights; HE Talal Khaled Al-Mutairi, Chairman of the Arab League’s Arab Human Rights Committee; HE Rola Dashti, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); HE Andrea Matteo Fontana, EU Ambassador to the UAE; HE Amina Bouayach, Secretary General of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions; HE Susanne Mikhail, Regional Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women for the Arab States; HE Reem Alsalem, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and Girls; HE Nadia Gofoun, Vice-Chairman of the Arab Human Rights Committee; and HE Abdullah Al-Ajmi, Director of the GCC Human Rights Office.