More women needed in government leadership worldwide, Dubai forum hears

Special More women needed in government leadership worldwide, Dubai forum hears
Leading women have gathered in Dubai (above) to assess how government and society can place women at the heart of major policy discussions, warning that ‘battles have to be won almost immediately’ to secure greater equality for all. (Supplied)
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Updated 30 March 2022

More women needed in government leadership worldwide, Dubai forum hears

More women needed in government leadership worldwide, Dubai forum hears
  • World Government Summit taking place at Expo 2020 Dubai during the final days of the prestigious event
  • Role of women in government and ties with Iran were among the issues addressed in the first two days

DUBAI: Empowerment of women in leadership positions worldwide continues to lag, with too few governments taking steps to encourage female leaders, a senior UAE minister believes.

Ohoud Al-Roumi, the UAE’s government development minister, made the claim during a session titled “Women in Government: Shaping a Better Future for the World” at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Monday.

In her address, Al-Roumi appealed for greater female representation in leadership and for more women to have a central role in discussions on global issues.

“We cannot simply have a conversation about our world without placing women at the center of the conversation,” she said, citing numbers that show women account for only 26.1 percent of parliamentary seats and 22.6 percent of ministerial positions worldwide.

“We need more women in government leadership all over the world. The current pace of progress is simply not enough.”

Al-Roumi said that amplifying the impact of women was essential. She used her own journey from the private sector to government as a lesson in how fears held by women — and also men — can be overcome.

“I enrolled in a program of leadership and was mentored by men and women, which allowed me to blossom into my current position,” she said.

“Support is needed to shape the future and next generation of leaders. Nurture 10 young women, empower them.”

The World Government Summit is taking place at Expo 2020 Dubai, coinciding with the final days of the global event.

Established almost a decade ago, the conference helps to identify opportunities and set the agenda for future governments. It attracts high-level government officials, senior representatives of international organizations, private sector leaders, thinkers, opinion makers, futurists and experts.

Speakers typically discuss the most pressing global challenges, suggesting ways to improve government performance and prepare for, as well as deal with, sudden changes. This year, the summit has created 15 global forums to tackle threats emerging from volatile financial markets and new virtual worlds.

“The launch of these global forums is part of the goal to identify and highlight the most important global trends in vital sectors, and to inform policies, strategies, and plans that advance the preparedness and adaptability of governments for the next stage of development,” said Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Gergawi, UAE minister of Cabinet affairs and chairman of the World Government Summit Foundation.

Among female leaders from around the world attending on Monday was Gordana Comic, minister of human and minority rights in Serbia, who told the “Women in Government” session that the time has come to acknowledge that “women are half of everything.”

She said: “My modern role as a woman should be harmonized and not confronted by the past and traditions. We are educated and we are still educating. We are always told to take care of others; men are taught to enable someone to take care of others. Let’s educate men to take care of others as well: Humans, climate and the world.”

Patricia Francourt, minister of employment and social affairs of the Seychelles, described how she learnt to become resilient living in the UK. “Passion and resilience are traits you want to share, something as women we should do,” she said.

Seeking to share what she had gained from living in the wider world, Francourt said that she had built “cabinets of resources” and launched workshops when she returned to Seychelles.

Workshops targeted women in leadership who felt they needed to go the extra mile.

Francourt, a psychotherapist before entering government, said that she did not separate her knowledge from her experience, noting that good mental health is needed to thrive. She advised women not to give up, even if they are in a minority, and to keep pushing and challenging.

Hessa Buhumaid, UAE minister of community development, said that women have other roles in a community — “a mother, daughter, aunt, you name it” — besides working or being involved in government.

“Women have lots of responsibilities, but their focus on family is very important. It is essential that the roles are balanced better than they have been,” she said.

INNUMBERS

4,000-plus attendees.

110-plus speakers.

110-plus sessions and workshops.

30-plus international organizations.

Discussing the role of women in shaping resilient economies, Hala El-Saeed, Egypt’s minister of planning, monitoring and administrative reform, underscored the need for political will, institutional framework and decrees that support the role of women in leadership. “We need qualified women. We need to invest in women,” she said.

Nadia Fettah Alaoui, Morocco’s finance minister, said that women need to be empowered in both the public and private sectors.

“Women having high positions can offer different ways to tackle problems and set priorities,” she said. “Rural women, in particular, must be educated and included.”

In a separate special address, Huda Al-Hashimi, UAE deputy minister of cabinet affairs for strategic affairs, discussed women’s role in “bringing global moral strategic leadership to the table.”

Mia Mottley, prime minister of Barbados, defined the concept as doing the right thing, picking the right battles and working as one on the big issues.

“Time is not on our side; battles have to be won almost immediately,” Mottley said.

“All people have a role to play, not just governments, to make the world a better place. Technology is an amplifier, due to access to information. Technology can democratize, but, if not used right, can make way for oppression.”

She added: “One must do things appropriately. Building trust and partnership are the things that will ultimately be remembered.

“As human beings, we have so much more in common than what separates us. Progress doesn’t always happen in a straight line. The capacity to stay focused, rooted and humble is what matters.”
 




Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the UAE president. (Supplied)


‘Are we ready for a new world order?’

Coexistence with Iran was among several issues discussed at a plenary session on Tuesday titled “Are We Ready for a New World Order?”

Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the UAE president, said that with the world having gone through a difficult decade, the UAE is reaching out to all sides in an attempt to lower tensions in the Middle East.

Acknowledging that the UAE’s objective is to find a way to work with Iran, he said: “We are reaching out to friends and also adversaries, and rebuilding bridges.

“We are not going to agree with everything they want to do. The Middle East is not only about Iran and Israel.”

Gargash said that the region needs to turn the page and reach out to everybody. “Our whole intention is to find a way to functionally work with Iran and to make sure there is an agenda for stability and prosperity in the region including Iran and others,” he said.

The adviser argued that questions of democracy and authoritarianism are not binary, given the way the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted varying approaches to governance.

“Every democratic attempt in the Arab world has turned ideological or tribal, so I’m not sure it is something we can work out successfully. But we do need governance, and that needs a lot of components. This is perhaps in the middle of the two.”

Gargash’s opinion was echoed by Frederick Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council, who described legitimacy in governments accepted by citizens as the most effective way to build societies.

“The issue is having an effective government and whether people consider it legitimate,” he said.

“Democracy is one way to achieve it, but there are other ways. Legitimacy is gained by governments that can deliver the goods and effectiveness to their people.”

Arguing that “people want freedom, human rights and governments to ensure order, safety and healthcare,” Kempe said: “This new era of technological change is getting faster all the time, and they can be used to enlighten and deliver better government services.” 


Palestinian President Abbas skirts apology for Munich attack

Palestinian President Abbas skirts apology for Munich attack
Updated 17 August 2022

Palestinian President Abbas skirts apology for Munich attack

Palestinian President Abbas skirts apology for Munich attack
  • Germany has long argued the term should only be used to describe the Nazis’ singular crime of killing six million Jews before and during World War II

BERLIN: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed no regret Tuesday for the deadly attack by Palestinian militants on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics a half century ago, countering that Israel had committed “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians over the years.
Eleven Israeli athletes and a German police officer died after members of the Palestinian militant group Black September took hostages at the Olympic Village on Sept. 5, 1972. At the time of the attack, the group was linked to Abbas’ Fatah party.
Asked whether as Palestinian leader he planned to apologize to Israel and Germany for the attack ahead of the 50th anniversary next month, Abbas responded instead by citing allegations of atrocities committed by Israel since 1947.
“If we want to go over the past, go ahead,” Abbas told reporters after a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin. “I have 50 slaughters that Israel committed.”
Standing next to Scholz, Abbas explicitly used the word “Holocausts” in his reply, drawing a grimace from the German chancellor. Germany has long argued the term should only be used to describe the Nazis’ singular crime of killing six million Jews before and during World War II.
While Scholz had earlier rejected the Palestinian leader’s description of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as “apartheid,” he did not immediately rebuke Abbas for using the term “Holocaust.”
In a statement to German daily Bild, Scholz later criticized Abbas’s choice of words, saying any downplaying of the horrors of the Holocaust was “unacceptable.”
Conservative German lawmaker Armin Laschet likewise expressed outrage at Abbas’ comments.
“The (Palestinian) leader would have gained sympathy if he had apologized for the terrorist attack on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics 1972,” he wrote on Twitter. “Accusing Israel of ‘50 Holocausts’ instead is the most disgusting speech ever heard in the German Chancellery,” he said.
In his response, the Palestinian president also said he was committed to building trust and achieving a peaceful solution to the conflict with Israel.
“Please come to peace,” he said. “Please come to security, let’s build trust between us and you. This is better than other kinds of talking.”
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Abbas’ remarks about “50 Holocausts,” made on German soil, were “not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie.”
“Six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, including one and a half million Jewish children,” Lapid tweeted. “History will never forgive him.”
Weeks before a planned somber commemoration marking the 50th anniversary of the Munich attack, Germany has also found itself embroiled in controversy in its dealings with the relatives of the Israelis who were killed.
Victims’ families announced last week that they planned to boycott the ceremony after failing to reach agreement on bigger compensation from the German government.
Relatives of the athletes have long accused Germany of failing to secure the Olympic Village, refusing Israeli help and botching a rescue operation in which five of the attackers also died.

 


Tunisia intercepts nearly 100 Europe-bound migrants

Tunisia intercepts nearly 100 Europe-bound migrants
Updated 16 August 2022

Tunisia intercepts nearly 100 Europe-bound migrants

Tunisia intercepts nearly 100 Europe-bound migrants
  • Tunisia and Libya are the main points of departure for migrants trying to reach Europe from Africa

TUNIS: Tunisia said Tuesday it had foiled several attempts by almost 100 migrants to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea since the previous day.

Tunisia and Libya are the main points of departure for migrants trying to reach Europe from Africa. Sea crossing attempts tend to increase during spring and summer.

Tunisia’s National Guard said it had prevented five maritime crossings and rescued 80 people, mostly Tunisians and including 35 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

It said “preventive operations” were also carried out near Menzel Temime in the north, Mahdia and Kerkennah on the central coast and Zarzis in the south, leading to 11 arrests.

The National Guard said it had seized “a sum of money” without specifying the amount, and an inflatable boat in these operations.

On Monday, maritime and military authorities said 657 people were rescued or prevented from trying to cross in 46 separate incidents between Friday and Monday.

The Defense Ministry said that 42 Egyptians who had set sail from Libya were rescued Sunday off Kerkennah, after their boat sank and they took refuge on an oil platform.

Tunisia is in the throes of political and economic crises, and Libya has been gripped by lawlessness since 2011 that has seen militias turn to people trafficking.

The two countries are also the gateway for sub-Saharan Africans hoping for a better life by escaping impoverished and strife-torn countries such as Sudan.

The EU’s Frontex border agency says the central Mediterranean route was used by more than 42,500 migrants between January and July, up 44 percent compared with the first seven months of 2021.


25 dead in airstrikes, shelling in north Syria

25 dead in airstrikes, shelling in north Syria
Updated 17 August 2022

25 dead in airstrikes, shelling in north Syria

25 dead in airstrikes, shelling in north Syria
  • Turkish attacks target Assad forces and Kurdish fighters in border town

JEDDAH: At least 25 people were killed in northern Syria on Tuesday after Turkey launched airstrikes and an artillery bombardment targeting Assad regime forces and Kurdish fighters near the border town of Kobane.

The Turkish shelling began overnight, when artillery salvoes hit the town and around its edges. It continued throughout the day, and at least one child was killed.
Kurdish YPG militia fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces responded with a mortar attack on a Turkish military border post in Sanliurfa province that killed one soldier and injured four.
After the mortar attack, Turkish forces conducted retaliatory fire against targets in the Kobane area. “According to initial information in the region, 13 terrorists were neutralized. Operations in the region are continuing,” the Defense Ministry in Ankara said.

FASTFACT

Kurdish YPG militia fighters responded with a mortar attack on a Turkish military border post in Sanliurfa province that killed one soldier and injured four.

Dilvin, a shopkeeper in Kobane, said chaos broke out in the town when the shelling intensified on Tuesday. “People started running everywhere, cars everywhere, people asking about their friends and their family. Then the sounds started to build, the sounds were everywhere,” she said.
“There was so much screaming. So much fear. Now everyone is locked up at home.”
Later on Tuesday, 11 people died in Turkish airstrikes on a Syria border post run by Assad regime forces. It was not clear if the dead were Syrian government troops or Kurdish fighters.
Syrian regime forces have deployed in areas controlled by the SDF near the border with Turkey as part of agreements intended to stem cross-border offensives by Ankara targeting Kurdish forces it views as terrorists.
Turkey has launched a series of attacks since 2016 targeting Kurdish forces and Daesh, but they have rarely resulted in the deaths of Syrian regime fighters.
If regime forces are confirmed to be among those killed on Tuesday, the attack would be one of the largest escalations since Ankara and Damascus traded attacks in 2020 following a Syrian regime strike that killed 33 Turkish soldiers in the northwestern province of Idlib.
Turkey has stepped up its attacks in Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria since July, when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan failed to obtain a green light from regional allies Iran and Russia for a fresh offensive into northern Syria.
Turkey has been hostile to Syrian leader Bashar Assad, and backed rebels calling for his removal. But last week Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu enraged the Syrian opposition by calling for reconciliation between the regime and the rebels.


66 people killed as Sudan floods continue to tear up homes

66 people killed as Sudan floods continue to tear up homes
Updated 16 August 2022

66 people killed as Sudan floods continue to tear up homes

66 people killed as Sudan floods continue to tear up homes
  • Some 24,000 homes and two dozen government buildings have been badly damaged or completely destroyed

CAIRO: Flash floods triggered by heavy rains continued to tear up homes across Sudan, an official said Tuesday, with the death toll rising to 66 since the start of the rainy season.

Earlier this week, authorities had said that at least 50 people were killed since the rains started in June. Brig. Gen. Abdul-Jalil Abdul-Rahim, spokesman for Sudan’s National Council for Civil Defense, said Tuesday that at least 28 people were reported injured during the same period.

Some 24,000 homes and two dozen government buildings have been badly damaged or completely destroyed, he said.

Sudan has been without a functioning government since an October military coup derailed its short-lived democratic transition following the 2019 removal of former ruler Omar Bashir in a popular uprising.

Overall, around 136,000 people have been impacted by heavy rainfall and floods in 12 of Sudan’s 18 provinces, according to the government-run Humanitarian Aid Commission.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the floods also inundated 238 health facilities. The western Darfur region and the provinces of Nile River, White Nile, West Kordofan and South Kordofan were among the hardest hit, it said.

Footage circulated online over the past weeks showing flood waters sweeping through streets and people struggling to save their belongings.

Sudan’s rainy season usually starts in June and lasts until the end of September, with floods peaking in August and September. More than 80 people were killed last year in flood-related incidents during the rainy season.

In 2020, authorities declared Sudan a natural disaster area and imposed a three-month state of emergency across the country after flooding and heavy rains killed around 100 people and inundated over 100,000 houses.


Palestinians outraged as Israeli archaeologists dig up village

Palestinians outraged as Israeli archaeologists dig up village
Updated 16 August 2022

Palestinians outraged as Israeli archaeologists dig up village

Palestinians outraged as Israeli archaeologists dig up village
  • Teams from Bar Ilan University are working at multiple sites in Nabi Saleh
  • Villager says digs are ‘just an excuse to take control of our land later’

RAMALLAH: Palestinians have expressed outrage after teams from an Israeli university launched a series of archaeological excavations in a village north of Ramallah.

Residents of Nabi Saleh said the excavations were taking place on their property, although representatives from both Bar Ilan University and the Israeli Civil Administration said the site was classified as “state land” under Israeli control.

According to the university’s website, the archaeological site was inhabited during the Bronze Age and formed part of the city of Timnat Herres, which is described in the Talmud as the place where Joshua bin Nun lived and died. It is therefore evidence of the settlement of Jews in the area.

Pottery and coins found in the area date back to the second century, it said.

Village resident Basim Al-Tamimi, who owns 1,800 square meters of land in one of the areas being excavated, told Arab News he feared the Israeli authorities were trying to take control of his and his uncle’s property.

“Digging in the ground under the pretext of searching for antiquities is just an excuse and a reason to take control of our land later,” he said.

Al-Tamimi led a prominent non-violent resistance in Nabi Saleh from 2009-16 against settlers and the Israeli army after they seized a local water spring. Six Palestinians were killed during the conflict and hundreds more were injured.

Naji Al-Tamimi, the head of the Nabi Saleh village council, told Arab News that the Israeli excavations were concentrated in three places and that each excavation site covered about 100 square meters.

While Israeli archaeologists said the excavation program was set to run from July 25 to Aug. 19 but there are no signs of the digging coming to an end.

“Bar Ilan University is known to be a stronghold of the Israeli right, whose goals are more political than archaeological,” Naji Al-Tamimi said.

“They will claim they have a historical relationship with the region through the presence of the tomb of Joshua bin Nun, and then seize it under that pretext.”

He added that the nearby Halamish settlement had been built on a plot that had earlier been seized from Nabi Saleh and feared the latest dig would lead to more of the village’s land being taken.

As evidence of the land belonging to the state, Bar Ilan University said there had been a Jordanian military base on it in the past, while aerial photographs suggested it had not been worked since 1967.

According to Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayieh condemned the excavations and declared the university’s actions as unacceptable and an attempt to “falsify the facts regarding the history of the Palestinian land.”

At his weekly Cabinet meeting, Shtayieh called for Israeli universities to stop digging and excavating antiquities in Palestinian territories.

Meanwhile, Ghassan Al-Khatib, vice president of Birzeit University, told Arab News that international scientific journals had refused to publish archaeological reports on excavations by Israeli teams working in occupied lands in line with international law and the Second Protocol to the Hague Charter.