Press Release

Women Speakers of Parliament seek to shape global agenda for security and prosperity

Geneva, 8 December 2016
Speaker Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, IPU President and IPU Secretary General briefing the press on the Summit. ©IPU/Pierre Albouy

Women Speakers of Parliament from 35 countries will work together to define concrete actions to promote global economic growth, sustainable development, technological advancement and environmental security.

Meeting in Abu Dhabi on 12-13 December under the theme United for Shaping the Future, the Global Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament will focus on their unique role in uniting parliamentarians to deliver sustainable prosperity and security in a rapidly changing world for present and future generations.

The Summit, organized jointly by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Federal National Council (FNC) of the United Arab Emirates, is the 11th edition of the world’s largest assembly of women Speakers. In Abu Dhabi, the Speakers will be joined by parliamentarians from 50 countries together with global leaders across government, business, industry and civil society.

The Summit will address key questions on the evolving role of parliament at a time of significant geopolitical, environmental, scientific, technological and socio-economic challenges. Debates will focus on how to modernize parliamentary institutions to better cope with current and future trends.

The panel discussions and debates will identify policies and laws needed to advance security, economic prosperity, gender equality and ensure sustainability, while placing people at the centre of parliamentary action.

War, conflict and terrorism undermine government plans and lead to major investment initiatives being postponed, cancelled or revised. At the same time, climate change and biodiversity loss pose a risk to millions of people and their livelihoods. On each of these global challenges, the Summit will examine policies and concrete actions parliaments can take to protect human rights, promote tolerance, advance development and ensure environmental security.

Gender perspectives will form the heart of the debates and outcomes. Mr. Martin Chungong, IPU Secretary General, reminds participants that IPU’s Summit of Women Speakers has been moving gender equality forward since 2005. “Back then, there were only 19 women presiding officers of parliament. Today there are 53, with the number rising with each election. We have a milestone next to us here at the Summit. Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi is the first women to preside over the FNC of the UAE and the first woman Speaker of a national parliament in the Arab world.”

While strides have been made towards gender equality, Mr. Saber Chowdhury, IPU President, offers some words of caution “We need to keep focusing on gender equality. Our parliaments will never realize their full potential and our actions will not achieve the desired results as long as gender inequalities at all levels of government and society remain unresolved.”

Global leaders joining the Speakers of Parliaments include Saber Chowdhury, IPU President; Martin Chungong, IPU Secretary General; Marilyn Hewson, Chairman and CEO, Lockhead Martin; and Dr. Dubravka Simonovic, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women.

The Summit is being held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, and will be attended by UAE deputy Prime-Minister, Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The outcomes of the Summit include a Declaration articulating the Speakers’ commitment to follow through with the expected recommendations for concrete action. Speaker of the UAE Parliament, Dr. Al Qubaisi, expressed her conviction that much will be achieved during the Summit. “With some of the best minds in the world under one roof, we have a genuinely strong chance of formulating recommendations that are not only inspired but also eminently actionable.”

Parliaments are at the core of sustainable development efforts. By working together, transforming themselves to be fit-for-purpose and opening up to their constituents, they can contribute to placing the people, including future generations, at the heart of their contribution to realizing fair, equitable and sustainable development for all. As Dr. Al Qubaisi says “If we pool together our collective thoughts and energies, we can not only solve many of the challenges of our time, but also shape a better future for all humanity.”

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is the global organization of national parliaments. It works to safeguard peace and drives positive democratic change through political dialogue and concrete action.

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