Statement by Her Excellency
Sheikha Hessa Bint Khalifa Bin Hamad AI-Thani
Vice President of the Supreme Council
For Family Affairs
Head of the Delegation of the State of Qatar to the
Twenty Third Session of the General Assembly entitled
"Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for
the twenty-first century"
New York - June 7, 2000
In The Name of God
The Merciful The Compassionate
It gives me great pleasure at the outset to extend to you my sincere congratulations on presiding over the meetings of this special session of the General Assembly entitled "Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st century". We are fully confident that your experience and political sagacity will lead our work to success, God willing.
My delegation would like to assure you of its full cooperation so that our meetings can achieve their envisaged objectives. I would also like to thank His Excellency, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan for his report entitled "The Review and appraisal of the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action", which will, no doubt enrich our discussions and be helpful to our meetings.
This Special Session and the subjects before it assume a special significance, because of the urgent need to review the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action five years after their adoption in order to examine and appraise the achievements, identify the obstacles that prevented the attainment of some goals. It is our hope that concerted efforts will be exerted to find an appropriate formula that will achieve the desired objectives of the sustainable development of societies. Therefore we must overcome all of our disagreements over the understanding and implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and build on what has been achieved so far, taking into consideration the cultural and historical differences among the peoples and societies which constitute this organization. These differences are the natural result of the cultural, religious and ethnic diversity of these peoples; nevertheless, they should not be a source of conflict and disagreement. Rather, they should be a source of support and enrichment for this organization. This will not come about through the attempt to impose the view or culture of one society on another, but rather by harnessing these differences in order to maintain a multi-cultural international community and respect the sovereignty of states and nations over their national legislation and laws and the specificity of their beliefs and cultures.
Under the leadership of His Highness, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al- Thani, the Emir, Qatar believes in the importance of the role of women in building the family, society and the modern state which is based on the efforts of all its citizens, and that development cannot achieve its envisaged results without the participation of women. On its part, the State has taken important steps to support the participation of women and has guaranteed them equal right so that they can contribute effectively to various aspects of life.
I would like to review here some of my country's endeavors in this regard, which no doubt, will continue to provide the optimum life for our people.
In the field of education, which is the linchpin in building nations and societies, the State provides free schooling, in all the various stages of education, for boys and girls alike. The State strives to develop the educational curricula so that they would keep pace with the spirit of the age in which we live. As a result of this enlightened educational policy and the continuous support for girls and women in regular and higher education, the percentage of female enrolment in secondary schools increased to 73% and the percentage of female teachers in preparatory schools increased to 59% and to 33% in secondary schools. As for the University, the percentage of Qatari women members of the teaching and research staff amounted to 50%. notably in the science faculties. For those who did not have the chance to receive the education. The State establish centers and schools to combat illiteracy. In this regard we are proud of the law level of illiteracy in the Qatari society.
As for the health field, which is no less important than education, the State has established specialized hospitals and health care centers that cater to all segments of society, especially women and children. Moreover, the Family Doctor Program and the Program for early cancer detection are provided through these centers. Medical services are provided at no cost to everybody without discrimination.
Within the social security system the State provides financial support for widows, divorcees and orphans. In addition, it provides free housing out of its concern for the stability of the family, which is the foundation of society. Non-governmental organizations contribute to the empowerment of women through technical and vocational training, and especially through helping poor families to find alternative or additional sources of income.
In the field of economic development, the State of Qatar has provided equality of opportunity for men and women, in gaining access to employment opportunities and equal pay. Women play an important role in the economic and commercial life. They enjoy the right to ownership and the right to dispose of their funds and inheritance. These rights are guaranteed for women by the Islamic Sharia', the constitution and the law.
The political rights of women and their participation in elections as voters and candidates are another achievement of the wise policy pursued by His Highness the Emir. In his guidance to the committee designated to draft the permanent constitution of the country- the first since independence- His Highness referred to the establishment of an elected legislature in which both men and women equally enjoy the right to vote and the right to run as candidates. Women have also participated in the elections to the Central Municipal Council in March 1999 as candidates and voters. Currently, women occupy senior positions in the various state ministries, three women occupy the post of Deputy Minister and women also occupy senior executive positions in the institutions of civil society.
The establishment of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs headed by the First Lady, Her Highness, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser AI-Misnad, is a landmark in the development of the Qatari family. It embodies the States interest in creating the institutional mechanism to 5 promote it. Within a short period of its establishment, this Council has reviewed and proposed legal legislation relevant to the family and has contributed effectively to the development and adoption of the various programs related to women, children, people with special needs, youth and the senior citizens. In undertaking these efforts, the council received unlimited support from Her Highness, the First Lady.
In this context, I would like to pay tribute to the pioneering role played by the institutions of the civil society in the State of Qatar in supporting public efforts for the advancement of society, contributing to the empowerment of the family, and supporting the positive role of women therein to enable them to face the challenges of modern life.
Since time doesn't permit me to address all the points included in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, I have confined myself to the basic points which are common to all societies.
Since we are concerned with and interested in the events that take place in the international community of which we are part of, we feel that the armed conflicts in some countries are the major obstacle to development. Therefore, concerted international efforts must be undertaken to contain these conflicts and exploit the resources that such conflicts squander to further development and production.
The developed countries have a major role to play in promoting investments in developing countries and in transferring the necessary technology to these countries. Also, finding a solution to the indebtedness that strains numerous Third World economies is an utmost priority if we are to eliminate poverty and contribute to the achievement of fair Globalization that should not only benefit developed countries but extend to include all others.
In 19995 in Beijing, Qatari women were not represented at the conference. Today I am proud to stand before you as representative of my country which aspires to accomplish further achievements for the Qatari women and to upgrade their level in various fields.
We express our full cooperation in order to work earnestly for the achievement of the ideal aims and objectives of an international community governed by amity and harmony.
In conclusion, we wish this session every success.