Forum highlights importance of gender equality, sustainability


Dr Shaikha Rana Bint Isa Al Khalifa, Bahrain Higher Eduction Council secretary general, speaks during the event.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

Constant assistance to girls and women with their latent talents and capabilities shall lead to peace and security, according to an Israel delegation.

The delegation, consisting of United Nations (UN) University for Peace (UPEACE) Permanent observer Ambassador David Fernandez Puyana, “Chutzpah: Why is Israel a Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship” author Inbal Arieli, Weizmann Institute of Science-Diversity and Inclusion Office head Dr Meytal Eran Jona, and Israel National Cyber Directorate-Skills & Growth Centre director Orit Tatarsky, was led by Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)-Women/Peace/Security special envoy Ambassador Aviva Raz Schechter.

Schechter, the first diplomat given the portfolio for the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on WPS by the MFA, chaired the “Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Forum” hosted by the Israel Pavilion at Expo2020 Dubai, recently.

The delegation shared with Gulf Today their nation’s experience for prioritising among other challenges, women empowerment and their contributions.

The forum was “co-sponsored” and participated in by UPEACE through Puyana, as well as Sweden and Canada, through Swedish Ambassador for Gender Equality & Coordinator of the Feminist Foreign Policy Sofia Calltorp and through Canadian Ambassador for Women, Peace & Security Jacqueline O’ Neill respectively. It was to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goal Number 5-Gender Equality-also a component of the UN 2030 Agenda based on the principle that “gender equality is not only a fundamental basic right but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.” “It was an outcome of the diplomatic exchange and the common goals we share. The events here (at Expo 2020 Dubai) are a good example of the role of diplomacy in promoting gender equality, gender mainstreaming and foreign policy objectives,” said Schechter.

UPEACE, according to Puyana, was “created” through the UN General Assembly 35/55. It has so far produced 2,000 alumni from 120 UN member-states; educated and trained by way of post-graduate courses “to explore and formulate strategies and practices in various contexts to address the multiple problems affecting human and global well-being for peacekeeping and peace-building.”

On women diplomats and their substantial influences in the forging and furtherance among the so-called Community of Nations, she cited how Tel Aviv had given credence to this space and so her role in the realm of WPS: “On behalf of Israel’s (MFA), I am leading the formulation of the National Action Plan with the Gender Equality Authority and an inter-governmental team of experts. I participate in an international forum of special ambassadors and envoys for WPS. We are all learning from the experiences of other countries while sharing best practices.”

Schechter was happy to note the increasing number of Israeli women diplomats, tasked to be in-charge of higher positions from the levels of directorship to being heads of diplomatic and consular missions: “We also see growing numbers of young women joining the MFA through the Cadet’s Course, the training course for young people to join the ministry. There is already a positive change in the number of women around the decision-making table, though we need to do more to achieve the goals that we are setting in the immediate and long-term.”

With regard to the fundamental role of public and private organisations, Tatarsky mentioned of “comprehensive, multi-annual and extra-curricular programmes” of the Israel National Cyber Directorate for girls between the ages of 11 and 18, when they muster in for military service: “These provide them with cyber and technological know-how, while at the same time empowering them, reinforcing their self-efficacy, and offering them gender-oriented support system. The programme tackles specific gender barriers and common misconceptions, while working in a multi-faceted way with parents, teachers and local authorities (to prepare them for well-meaning service at the Israel Defence Force and national service).”

 “Giving the spotlight and stage for women innovators, researchers, executives and investors in healthcare, financial tech, cyber security, and space tech among others, is an effective way of directly influencing the younger generations of men and women,” said Arieli, armed with a background on military service. She referred to the initiatives she had formulated and carried out in the 20-year-old Israeli tech industry, when asked regarding in-roads made by girls and women in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).

To illustrate how women, when assisted and encouraged, become trailblazers, Jona gave as an example the landmark recognition of Weizmann Institute of Science Prof. Ada Yonath, the first Middle Eastern woman to win a Nobel Prize for her “pioneering work on the structure and functions of ribosomes.”


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