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.” 


Jordanian Ministry of Transport announces five-year public transportation strategy for 2022 to 2027

Jordanian Ministry of Transport announces five-year public transportation strategy for 2022 to 2027
Updated 28 min 43 sec ago

Jordanian Ministry of Transport announces five-year public transportation strategy for 2022 to 2027

Jordanian Ministry of Transport announces five-year public transportation strategy for 2022 to 2027
  • The ministry stated that it will be forming partnerships with the private sector to close a significant funding gap for transportation projects

AMMAN: The Jordanian Ministry of Transport has announced a five-year public transportation strategy for the years 2022 to 2027, Jordan News Agency (Petra) reported on Wednesday.

The ministry's goal is to increase the sector's employment by 18 percent and increase its current GDP contribution from 2.6 percent to 7 percent in that time.

The ministry also said in a statement that it will collaborate with its partners at the World Bank and the European Union to align its new five-year strategy with the recently released Economic Modernization Vision recommendations.

As the strategy sources additional funding, the ministry stated that it will be forming partnerships with the private sector to close a significant funding gap for transportation projects.

The strategy also aims to cut down on the use of cars, increase the percentage of people who use public transportation from 12 to 17 percent, and reduce household spending on transportation to 5 percent.

It also aims to reduce the cost of losses caused by traffic accidents by 35 percent, the energy used by the transportation industry by 7 percent, and the emissions produced by the industry by 125 percent.


Migrants in Libya forced into rape for food: UN

Migrants in Libya forced into rape for food: UN
Updated 46 min 13 sec ago

Migrants in Libya forced into rape for food: UN

Migrants in Libya forced into rape for food: UN
  • Investigators described how migrants in detention face “acts of murder, torture, rape and other inhumane acts”
  • A flimsy rubber boat collapsed and sank off Libya's coast, leaving at least 30 people missing and feared dead

GENEVA/CAIRO: Migrants detained in Libya face horrific abuse, with women especially facing sexual violence, and often forced to submit to rape in exchange for food, UN investigators said Wednesday.
In a fresh report, the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya reiterated that the worst crimes under international law were likely being committed in the war-ravaged country, with migrant women suffering some of the worst abuse.
“The mission has reasonable grounds to believe that the crimes against humanity of murder, torture, imprisonment, rape, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts have been committed in several places of detention in Libya since 2016,” it said.
Migrants are routinely detained by authorities, human traffickers and others in Libya — a key departure point for tens of thousands of people mainly from sub-Saharan Africa hoping to reach Europe.
Human traffickers have profited from the chaos that has raged since the 2011 toppling and killing of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Talks between rival Libyan governments are being held in Geneva this week over the rules for long-awaited elections, with an aim to end the chaos.
The fact-finding mission report, to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council next week, said it had gathered broad evidence of “the systematic use of prolonged arbitrary detention” of migrants in Libya.
The investigators, who made several trips to Libya, described how migrants in detention face “acts of murder, torture, rape and other inhumane acts.”
The report highlighted “sexual violence at the hands of traffickers and smugglers, often with the aim of extorting families.”
“The mission has also documented cases of rape in places of detention or captivity whereby migrant women are forced to have sex in order to survive, in exchange for food or other essential items,” it said.
In fact, the known risk of sexual violence is considered too great, the report said, that “some migrant women and girls get fitted with a contraceptive implant before traveling there to avoid unwanted pregnancy due to such violence.”
The investigators relayed some heartbreaking stories heard from migrants in Libya.
One woman, who was held in the northern town of Ajdabiya, “described how her captors demanded sex in exchange for access to water she direly needed to wash her six-month-old sick child’s soiled clothes,” the report said.
“I let them rape me. I had no choice. It was for my daughter. I could not leave her like that,” she said, according to the report.
The fact-finding mission, which was created by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2020, will see its mandate expire in a few days.
But a group of African countries has presented a draft resolution to the council that would allow it to continue its work for another nine months.
Meanwhile, a flimsy rubber boat collapsed and sank in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya’s coast, leaving at least 30 people including women and children missing and feared dead, an international charity said Wednesday.
The vessel sank in the deadly central Mediterranean Sea route, said Doctors Without Borders, also known by its abbreviation MSF for the French name of the group.
A rescue ship operated by MSF reached the boat, and managed to rescue dozens of other migrants including some women. A pregnant woman died on board the rescue ship, Geo Barents, it said.
Among the rescued migrants from Monday’s boat sinking was a woman who lost her child in the sinking and another one who said she lost two children, the charity said.
The charity has called for Italian and Maltese authorities to determine a port of safety to allow the disembarkation of survivors.
* With AFP and AP


‘People will die’ if cross-border aid to Syria stops, UN says

‘People will die’ if cross-border aid to Syria stops, UN says
Updated 29 June 2022

‘People will die’ if cross-border aid to Syria stops, UN says

‘People will die’ if cross-border aid to Syria stops, UN says
  • The UN Security Council mandate allowing trucks of aid to enter Syria via Turkey is due to expire on July 10

BEIRUT: People living in Syria’s battered northwest could die of malnutrition or lack of water if Russia vetoes UN authorization for cross-border aid, an aid official said on Wednesday.
The UN Security Council mandate allowing trucks of aid to enter Syria via Turkey is due to expire on July 10. But Syrian ally Russia has hinted it may veto, prompting fears of a cut-off as Syrians grapple with drought and growing food insecurity.
Mark Cutts, deputy UN regional humanitarian coordinator, told Reuters the “eyes of the world have turned away from Syria” precisely when it most needs outside help.
“If the resolution is not renewed, we know that many people are going to suffer, people are going to die,” he said.
Around 4.4 million Syrians live in the northwestern enclave controlled by Turkish-backed groups and hard-line Islamist militants and virtually all of them — 4.1 million — need humanitarian assistance, the United Nations says.
One in three children are under-nourished and many rely on therapeutic feeding made possible by cross-border aid, he said.
“Many are in hospitals that will no longer get the medical aid they need, vaccination programs will be affected,” he said, adding that water being trucked in to hundreds of thousands of people living in camps may not reach them.
Since the Security Council first authorized cross-border aid in 2014, Russia has repeatedly threatened to veto extensions or amend language to curtail operations, arguing they violate Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and that more help should be delivered from within the country.
“The stakes are higher this year with the war in Ukraine and the tensions in the Security Council,” Cutts said.
Needs have meanwhile hit an all-time high, with more displaced families pouring into the zone, Syria’s economy deteriorating, the COVID-19 pandemic and the spike in food prices worldwide.
Cross-border military operations threatened by Turkey to oust Kurdish-led forces from some areas in the north would only add to the suffering, aid groups have warned.
Funding has also dried up, with donor countries spread thin by crises in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Yemen. The UN says it has only received a quarter of the $4.4 billion needed for aid operations to continue.
“The crisis is now worse than it’s ever been,” Cutts said.


Jordan’s King Abdullah pledges to hold those responsible for chlorine explosion to account

Jordan’s King Abdullah pledges to hold those responsible for chlorine explosion to account
Updated 29 June 2022

Jordan’s King Abdullah pledges to hold those responsible for chlorine explosion to account

Jordan’s King Abdullah pledges to hold those responsible for chlorine explosion to account
  • At least 13 people were killed and 250 were taken ill when a chlorine tank exploded at the Red Sea port of Aqaba

AMMAN: Jordan’s King Abdullah II has called for those responsible for the deadly gas leak on Monday to be held accountable.

At least 13 people were killed and 250 were taken ill when a chlorine tank exploded at the Red Sea port of Aqaba, when a crane dropped it, releasing a large plume of toxic yellow smoke.

The king “stressed the need to provide transparent explanations to the public after investigations conclude, as well as identifying shortcomings and holding those responsible to account by law,” the palace said in a statement. He also offered condolences to victims’ families.

King Abdullah was chairing a meeting on Tuesday at the National Centre for Security and Crisis Management to check on the latest developments of Monday’s gas explosion.

At the meeting, attended remotely by Crown Prince Al-Hussein bin Abdullah II from Aqaba, King Abdullah extended condolences to the families of those who died in the line of duty, wishing the injured a speedy recovery.

The king, who has been following up with the Crown Prince on the details of the incident and rescue and evacuation efforts from the very beginning, stressed the need to provide transparent explanations to the public after investigations conclude, as well as identifying shortcomings and holding those responsible to account by law.

He called for all necessary precautions to be taken to avoid a repeat of such incidents in the future.

 

 

And he commended the efforts of Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army and security agencies’ personnel, especially the Civil Defense Department and civilian and military medical staff, for their swift response and high professionalism in dealing with the incident and evacuating the injured.

He said their efforts contributed to saving lives and limiting losses, and he wished a speedy recovery to those injured.

The Crown Prince spoke about his field inspection on Tuesday at the site of the incident, and his visit to the injured who have been hospitalised.

The Crown Prince reiterated the need to maintain cooperation and coordination among all the concerned entities, as all await the investigation’s findings.

Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh visited the site Tuesday and, citing civil defense and environmental authorities, said the gas concentration in the area had returned to normal. He said that most movement at the port had resumed, except for the exact site of the incident which was being cleaned and inspected.

Al-Khasawneh said many of those in hospitals were being discharged.

A government spokesman, Faisal Al-Shboul, told state media that eight of the dead were Jordanian and five were foreigners. Among the injured were Chinese and Vietnamese nationals, hospital officials said.

Video carried on state TV showed the moment the tank exploded, sending dockworkers scrambling to escape the toxic cloud. Some 200 people were hospitalized.

The Public Security Directorate, which initially described it as a gas leak, said authorities sealed off the area after evacuating the injured and sent specialists in to address the situation.

State-run Jordan TV said 13 people were killed. Al-Mamlaka TV, another official outlet, said 199 were still being treated in hospitals. The Public Security Directorate said a total of 251 people were injured.

Aqaba is on the northern tip of the Red Sea, next to the Israeli city of Eilat, which is just across the border. Both are popular beach and diving destinations.

Eilat’s emergency services said in a statement that there was no impact on the city but that they were following the situation closely.

(With AP)


Iran report: Nuclear talks with US end without deal in Qatar

Iran report: Nuclear talks with US end without deal in Qatar
Updated 29 June 2022

Iran report: Nuclear talks with US end without deal in Qatar

Iran report: Nuclear talks with US end without deal in Qatar
  • Iranian officials said they were hoping for progress in Qatar talks
  • The indirect talks come two weeks before US President Joe Biden's official visit to the region

DUBAI: Indirect negotiations between Iran and the US over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers have ended without breaking a deadlock over the talks, a semiofficial Iranian news agency reported Wednesday.
The US State Department and the European Union, which is mediating the talks in Qatar, did not immediately acknowledge the end of the negotiations in Doha.
However, the semiofficial Tasnim news agency, believed to be close to Iran’s hard-line Revolutionary Guard, described the negotiations as finished and having “no effect on breaking the deadlock in the talks.”
US Special Representative Rob Malley spoke to the Iranians through EU official Enrique Mora during the talks. Mora then took messages to Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani.
Tasnim claimed that the American position did not include “a guarantee for Iran benefiting economically from the deal,” quoting what it described as unnamed “informed sources.”
“Washington is seeking to revive the (deal) in order to limit Iran without economic achievement for our country,” the Tasnim report claimed.
Iran and world powers agreed in 2015 to the nuclear deal, which saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord, raising tensions across the wider Middle East and sparking a series of attacks and incidents.
Talks in Vienna about reviving the deal have been on a “pause” since March. Since the deal’s collapse, Iran has been running advanced centrifuges and rapidly growing stockpiles of enriched uranium.

Iran earlier warned the US to abandon the “Trump method” after the two sides opened indirect talks to revive a nuclear deal that was torpedoed by the former American president.
“We hope that, God willing, we can reach a positive and acceptable agreement if the United States abandons the Trump method,” Iranian government spokesman Ali Bahadori-Jahromi said.
He described the “Trump method” as “non-compliance with international law and past agreements and disregard for the legal rights of the Iranian people.”
The indirect talks — with the rival delegations sending each other messages from different parts of the same hotel — came just two weeks before US President Joe Biden makes his first official visit to the region, with Iran high on his agenda.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Iran was open to a deal in Doha, but wouldn’t cross its “red lines.”
“We are serious” in our desire to finalize an agreement, he said, stressing that his country would not retreat from the “red lines” it has drawn.
IRNA has previously described the “red lines” as lifting all sanctions as related to the nuclear agreement, creating a mechanism to verify they have been lifted, and making sure the US does not withdraw from the deal.