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Women seek greater role in global market

Muawia E. Ibrahim
Filed on March 13, 2006

ABU DHABI — Women around the world should be empowered to play a greater role in the global marketplace and come forward as leaders, some of the world’s most influential women urged here yesterday.


Addressing the opening ceremony of the Students International Conference, titled: ‘Women as Global Leaders’, key women figures in the global arena sent a message to their fellow women to equip themselves with knowledge and determination to be more prominent in positions of leadership and have their own vision and commitment which will make a difference. The three-day conference, held at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, was inaugurated by Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Chairman of Zayed University (ZU). Organised for the second year by ZU, the conference is being held under the patronage of Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak.

The event aims at creating communication between students of ZU and others in different universities all over the world, besides arranging meetings between the students and women leaders in the UAE and the GCC countries. Over 1,200 delegations from 75 countries are participating in the conference that includes seven sessions discussing social services, voluntary work, and the role of organisations and social societies. In addition, the conference includes 230 events of discussions, electronic shows, and papers on developing leadership programmes, globalisation, the picture of women in media, and a number of other topics.

Inaugurating the conference, Shaikh Nahyan said: “Women still face many challenges worldwide, and yet their capacity to be agents of change locally and globally grows and grows.” He said women continue to make incredible advances around the globe, and we realise that their full and unhindered contributions are essential to the success and prosperity of local and global communities.

“Events around the world have reached a new level of tension and confrontation. Our local, national and global communities have gone through transitions no one has ever dreamt of or desired. Numerous forces are threatening and sometimes tearing the fabric of our communities. But we strongly believe that our shared values and ideas can bind us close together when they are forcefully and passionately articulated,” Shaikh Nahyan stated.

Calling for empowerment of women, he said women have historically been denied many opportunities that have been available to men, and have had fewer opportunities for leadership. He, however, added: “But recent history has seen women persevere — often in alliance with enlightened men — and gain many rights and access to endeavours previously preserved for men.”

“Communities across the world face similar challenges regarding health, the environment, economic development, education and yes, international peace and understanding. Women have shown leadership, locally and globally, in solving these problems. As local leaders who seek global application, women move the global community to focus on common issues. As global leaders, women facilitate communication across geographical and cultural boundaries. As globalisation draws local communities closer to each other, larger networks of communities are created, opening more doors for women to lead.”

Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan called for a greater role of women as global leaders. “As astute and dynamic twenty-first century women, you understand the challenges of translating your education, experience and energy into an active role in the global marketplace. And more than, what it takes to balance that role with your role in your families and communities.”

She stressed that great leaders are not the ones with spines of steel — “they are the ones who know how to adapt to change, and bounce back from frustration or failure. Because life inevitably brings surprises that knock off our feet.”

Giving a strong statement on the multiple role played by women, Queen Rania said: “For women, juggling multiple roles as daughters, mothers, wives and professionals, getting knocked off our feet can be a daunting prostitution.” Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland and Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said encouraging women’s leadership holds such promise for many.

“The situation is improving with regard to the challenges faced by women,” she stated. However, she added that the reality is that for millions of women, things may be even worse. “Reports show that the number of women victimised by trafficking are on the rise, resources for family planning assistance have been slashed, and the scourge of HIV/Aids increasingly strikes women in a growing number of countries.” She said despite the many challenges, I am convinced that women will prevail. “They will continue the work to make human rights — their rights and their children’s rights — a reality.”

Shaikha Lubna Al Qassimi, Minister of Economy, said Arab women had played a role in the transition taking place in their countries. However, she said women in this part of the world should be more empowered to boost that role. “There have been some amazing accomplishments made by Arab women just in the last 30 years — and another drastic progress in last five years, but I believe that the pace of women’s empowerment is set to unfold even more quickly.”

She added: “What I believe is that by creating an environment in the UAE that enables women to be flexible in their approach to work — to choose a career path, to balance the demands of home and the office, to contribute to the development of this nation, we are unquestionably contributing to the growth of the UAE’s GDP. As a wise man (and I say man, not woman!) once said: “you cannot ostracise 50 per cent of a country’s population and then expect it to perform at optimal levels.”





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