ABU DHABI – Gathered together at a round-table for women speakers of parliament, at the Global Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament (GSWS) 2016, participant delegates from over 30 countries unanimously lauded the success of this first summit of its kind, hosted by Abu Dhabi.
Chaired by Her Excellency Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, President of the UAE Federal National Council and President of the summit, the round table drew the attendance of His Excellency Saber Chowdhury, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), His Excellency Martin Chungong, Secretary General of the IPU, and more than 50 women speakers in attendance at the event.
Initiating the proceedings of the round table, Her Excellency Dr Al Qubaisi said: “I thank you for joining us on the second day of the summit, held under the theme ‘United for Shaping the Future’. We hope to be able to translate this historic session that is taking place in the UAE into actionable outcomes that will enhance the role of parliaments in dealing with the megatrends of today and tomorrow.”
She added: “The pace of megatrends is quickening and we must be ready to face them on a united front. This summit is a platform for us to develop a roadmap that will equip us for this momentous task. With our destinies linked, we need to work together as parliamentarians and strategists to come up with the best solutions for our collective future. Our objective is to influence positive outcomes and lay the foundations for a better tomorrow for the people.”
Her Excellency Dr Al Qubaisi highlighted the unique purpose of the event, and the various topics identified for debate and deliberation. She noted that the summit is convening at an important time for parliaments, at the end of year, when parliamentary budgets and policies are being discussed and finalised. She commended the participant women speakers on their determination, and their will to translate these discussions into real decisions and tangible results.
Furthermore, she expressed hope that the Abu Dhabi Declaration will mark a new beginning for parliaments around the world. Her Excellency Dr Al Qubaisi noted that the speakers have honoured the UAE by their presence at the summit. She thanked them for providing Abu Dhabi with the opportunity to give new impetus for the future of parliaments through this event that has the power to help global populations develop sustainable solutions and deal with megatrends.
She stressed that those outside of the summit have great expectations from the speakers and the Abu Dhabi Declaration. She said: “While the UAE may be far away from the countries you represent, we firmly believe that the Abu Dhabi Declaration that we arrive at today will meet your expectations in addressing the unique challenges of our time. I think this summit has proved our ability to collaborate with civil societies, parliaments and the youth, who are the most important stakeholders in the context of the future.”
She concluded: “We are here today with one heart, and we hope this will be a significant moment in the history of parliaments. Your input into developing ideas is a measure of your commitment to this initiative. Thank you all for your positive contributions. We believe this will be the first building block in the platform that we have created under the IPU umbrella. We especially thank His Excellency Saber Chowdhury and His Excellency Martin Chungong for their support and trust in us. We also thank the entire team and my fellow sister-speakers present here for their help in drawing up the Abu Dhabi Declaration.”
In his opening remarks at the roundtable, His Excellency Saber Chowdhury said: “The UAE has set very high standards with the first Global Summit for Women Speakers of Parliament. I congratulate the FNC and Her Excellency Dr Amal Al Qubaisi on their vision, and thank them for their cordial and generous hospitality. We are present at this meeting at a challenging time, when the usual premise of ‘business as usual’ simply will not do. The advantage of this summit is that it brings a lot of different insights and perspectives. This cross-fertilisation of ideas is going to make the Abu Dhabi Declaration much more impactful.”
He added: “Today, we as parliamentarians are much more powerful. In the past, governments would essentially come to certain agreements, and parliaments would rubber-stamp them. Nowadays, we are experiencing a different reality, where parliamentarians are increasingly involved in the global discourse. They are part of international delegations that go to the United Nations and its various meetings. With this greater integration of parliaments in the global processes, our responsibilities have, of course, increased. This is where the Abu Dhabi Declaration comes into effect. These are not just expressions of noble sentiments, but articulations of what we would like to see and of turning words into action.”
He concluded: “All the speakers I have interacted with at the summit have lauded the success of the event, and I think future summits will make good use of this format. Moreover, the Abu Dhabi Declaration will not be something we leave behind; we will send it out to all the members of the IPU and we hope that there will be action on all of the points that we discuss at this summit. Being aware of and prepared to deal with the megatrends is going to be a very important part of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I commend the enlightened leadership of the UAE on developing this platform.”
The roundtable welcomed suggestions and comments from various participants. Some of the key takeaways included ensuring generality of the language used in the Abu Dhabi Declaration in order for it to be adaptable to specific national agendas around the world; greater focus on climate change, environmental sustainability and food safety; protection against drug trafficking; empowerment of the girl child; enhancement of peace and security; and introduction of gender-sensitive policies, such as a quota system, to encourage female participation in parliaments. The speakers also lauded the inclusion of concrete actions in the declaration, including the establishment of a Parliamentary Committee for the Future.
The session ended with a resolution to continue with the two-day Global Summit for Women Speakers format, introduced by the UAE.
The Global Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament 2016 is held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, President of the General Women’s Union, Supreme President of the Family Development Foundation, and Supreme President of the Council for Motherhood and Childhood.
The event focuses on the role that women speakers can play in uniting parliamentarians around national and political interests to deliver sustainable prosperity and security in a fast-changing world for present and future generations. It also offers an exclusive opportunity to shape the parliamentary agenda on the basis of rapidly emerging political, economic, environmental and social changes that affect global security, prosperity and sustainability.