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Women’s leadership conference opens in Abu Dhabi

(Wam) / 22 November 2010

ABU DHABI -- Top businesswomen from both the UAE and abroad, will provide dynamic presentations, case studies and interactive sessions for the two-day Women in Leadership (WIL) Forum which opens tomorrow at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr hotel in Abu Dhabi.

Christine Lagarde, the French Minister of Economy, Industry and Employment will deliver the opening remarks on women leadership via video presentation drawing on her own considerable experience from an idealistic student to one of the most prominent female political figures on the world stage today.

“Not only do we have Christine Lagarde delivering, we have a number of influential UAE businesswoman speaking over the course of the forum including Fatima Al Jaber, COO, Al Jaber Group and Afnan Al Zayani” said Sophie Le Ray, CEO, naseba.

Annette Burke, Director of Education Excellence at Abu Dhabi’s International Center for Organisational Excellence is on the jury panel for the WIL Achievement Awards. Annette, who was Mayor of Palmerston in Australia for 10 years, moved to the UAE in 2007 and founded a cross cultural women’s mentoring group in Abu Dhabi and initiated a very successful Women’s Leadership workshop sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and ADICOE in Abu Dhabi.

“As the only female Mayor in a remote part of Australia for 10 years, I sometimes felt alone and even intimidated by my male counterparts – I wish naseba had been there organising such an event to encourage and empower more women to stand beside each other. This is a wonderful opportunity for women to learn, gain confidence and to know they are not alone in their leadership quest” said Burke.

Another highlight is the participation of Suzanne Al Houby, founder and CEO of Rahhalah Explorers – Adventure Holidays, who visited more than 100 destinations worldwide, carried a backpack half her weight camping in extreme conditions.

“These women will no doubt provide inspiration for the next generation of leading Arab businesswomen,” she added.

The organiser naseba will also be unveiling at the forum the findings of a recent survey conducted by market research company YouGov.

The survey entitled ‘Drivers And Barriers for women In The Work Place’ looks to further understand the issues currently faced by working women in the region, as well as the barriers they had to overcome before joining the work force. It also delves into the problems faced by non-working women, those embarking on a career and women wishing to return to work after maternity leave.

The survey, conducted across the UAE, KSA and Egypt discovered that out of the total 1502 respondents, 60% of which were between the ages of 25 and 34, just under half were in junior management levels and claimed to be working in the same organisation for the past 4 years.

Some of the current barriers facing women in the work force today are ‘inadequate opportunity for job promotions’; ‘stressful and demanding work environment’ as well as ‘discrimination in terms of salary and benefits’. Women employees in KSA claim a more stressful work environment in comparison to other counterparts.

Overall other barriers enlisted include lack of medical benefits, discrimination in terms of work load, unsympathetic management style and insufficient job training.

The unveiling of this survey will also elaborate on the impact that the recession has had on family finances and the need in some cases for additional income.

“The results bring into focus the growing need of women to be a part of the workforce - not only to fulfil career aspirations, but to contribute to their household finances” said Le Ray.

“Many Arab women want to prove their ability to balance work and family, that is clearly evident from the research. Although a higher percent of working women (58%) are of the opinion that they can be role models for their children, 52% of non working women think that a mother’s role is to stay at home with their children” she added.

Also this year, the Women in Leadership Achievement Awards will honour businesswomen working the public and private sector. Seven awards will be given out at the prestigious a grand ceremony taking place at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr on November 23rd. The categories include ‘Woman Initiative of the Year’; ‘Woman Leader in Public Sector’; ‘Most Successful Businesswoman of the Year’; ‘Most Innovative Entrepreneur of the Year’; ‘Woman CEO of the Year’; and ‘Woman Manager of the Year’.

 

 
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