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Women’s leadership is fundamental in global pandemic recovery.

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Today, March 8, 2021, is International Women’s Day.
A day to be honored as it is every year, but different from any other.

This year the International Women’s Day is observed against the devastating health, social and economic impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic, which has disproportionately affected women.

Hend Al Otaiba, director of strategic communications at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, shared her thoughts on the pandemic year with Khaleej Times, telling why she believes women must lead the recovery effort.

Al Otaiba is one of the most influential female Emirati voices in the international arena. She has been at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2017 and has written articles for several foreign publications, including Israel’s Haaretz Daily, Saudi Arabia’s Arab News and New York’s Tablet Magazine.

Her message on this International Women’s Day is clear: “We must all work together to address inequalities and ensure that women are not left behind in the Covid-19 recovery period,” she said.

Recognizing the important role of women in the UAE is a very important issue for Al Otaiba. This year’s International Women’s Day is expected to highlight the sacrifices women have made during the pandemic and beyond, and drive a coordinated global effort related to the status and involvement of women worldwide.

According to the CDC, men tend to suffer from more severe cases of Covid-19, while women have been hardest hit by the social and economic effects of the pandemic, often bearing the burden of childcare and home schooling, all while juggling their professional responsibilities.

In recent years, the UAE government has adopted several laws that aim to strengthen leadership roles among women throughout society. In 2015, the UAE established the Gender Balance Council, charged with increasing the role of women in government.

Today, half of the Federal National Council is made up of women, along with one-third of the Cabinet. In the current government, nine of the 32 ministers are women, representing 27 percent, and women constitute 30 percent of the UAE’s diplomatic corps and 66 percent of the public sector.

Despite economic, cultural, and social setbacks, the UAE has amassed several historic achievements this year, becoming the fifth country to reach Mars, launching the Arab world’s first nuclear power plant, and becoming the first Arab country to sign the Abraham Agreements with Israel.

Al Otaiba, as this year’s proudest moment, highlighted the UAE’s Mars mission because of the key role women played. “The probe was developed by a team of 200 Emirati engineers, experts and researchers, of which 34 percent were women, the highest in the world for such a project,” she said.

“Undoubtedly, the government is exerting a significant effort to increase the percentage of Emirati women in senior roles,” said Al Otaiba, whose office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is made up of 50 percent women.

“While this remarkable progress has occurred in just 50 years of our nation’s development, we are eager to continuously improve on these achievements to ensure that women are active participants in this journey,” Al Otaiba said.

This year’s International Women’s Day should encourage future generations of women to succeed in all fields.

Full article on Khaleej Times

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