134 Arab women cadets from seven countries in the region completed today, in a graduation ceremony, the first three-months stage of the military and peacekeeping training programme, launched by UN Women in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Defence and the General Women’s Union, to build the capacity and increase the participation of women in peace and security.

The graduation ceremony, which was held on April 30th, 2019 in Abu Dhabi, was attended by Staff Major General Pilot Abdullah Al Hashimy, Assistant Under-Secretary for Support Services, UAE Ministry of Defense, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Her Excellency Noura Khalifa Al Suwaidi, Director-General of the General Women’s Union, as well as representatives from the UAE, including the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Khawla bint Al Azwar Military School. Members of foreign delegations, the United Nations, and diplomatic missions also attended the graduation event.

The programme is the first-of-its-kind, bringing women from several countries to undergo a military and peacekeeping training in one cohort, demonstrating a successful model for replication globally. Held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikh Fatima bint Mubarak, the experience provides women in the region with the foundational skills in peacekeeping and conflict resolution and creates peer-to-peer networks among female military officers to provide support during future deployments.

Dr. Mouza Al Shehhi, Director of the UN Women Liaison Office in Abu Dhabi, said “This is a very special moment for all of us, but especially for these brave young women who are graduating today after completing rigorous military training, which pushed them to their limits, but they persevered. Their success is meaningful on so many levels and it is not just a personal triumph; it signals a myriad of opportunities for thousands of women in our region and around the world. It gives them hope that today’s realities can be changed and that they can be part of this change. This historic programme would not have been possible without the unwavering support and commitment by the UAE’s wise leadership and all the stakeholders involved.”

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women, said: “Our aim with this training was to increase Arab women’s representation in military and peacekeeping operations. The success of more than 100 women from seven countries in the programme underlines both their right to serve in the security sector, and their role in strengthening the operational effectiveness of peacekeeping and military operations. I am pleased with how far we have come over the course of one year, and I really commend today’s graduates for exhibiting such leadership, mental and physical strength, flexibility, teamwork and integrity. I look forward to seeing the results of the skills and networks that they have built together.”

The three-month military training commenced in January in Abu Dhabi at the Khawla bint Al Azwar Military School, the first military academy in the UAE and GCC for women, established in 1990. The group of women, comprised of civilians and national security professionals from the UAE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Arab Republic of Egypt, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Socotra Island in the Republic of Yemen, Kingdom of Bahrain and Republic of the Sudan, took part in chemical weapons defence management, first aid and medic training, military topography, urban combat, field engineering, internal security and weapons training, among other military training components. The development of soft skills such as leadership and self-management were cultivated, alongside strong physical fitness training with jiu-jitsu and military marching components.

All participants will have to complete the second stage of the programme, which is a two-week peacekeeping training, commencing on May 1st. Peacekeeping training will prepare the women to contribute to international peacekeeping missions, while also supporting growth in their countries’ national security forces. The training programme has a direct impact on increasing the operational effectiveness of peacekeeping operations, providing the cadets with the skills to partake in conflict resolution and humanitarian assistance, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.