Dream, if you want to lead, women urged

Preeti Kannan (Our staff reporter)
Filed on March 11, 2008

DUBAI - The third Women Global Leaders Conference opened yesterday with prominent international women activists and philanthropists urging female students ‘to dream’ and become ‘volcanoes’ if they wanted to lead.

Over 2,000 delegates from 60 countries are attending the three-day bi-annual conference, organised by Zayed University at the Madinat Jumeirah.

Themed ‘Learning Leadership’, the conference is being held under the patronage of Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak, President of Family Development Foundation, General Women’s Union and Arab Women’s Organisation.

Actress and humanitarian Jane Fonda said, “Leadership and women can and should go together. There is a growing condition of independent woman leaders in Europe and other countries. Women leaders have to become the change we want to see. We have to become the change we want to see. We have to incubate and embody it in our bodies.

“Impactful leaders have embodied their vision.”

The two-time award-winning American actress told the gathering of students from Zayed University and various universities across the world that it was important as young girls to choose the kind of leader one wants to become.

“There are visionaries who see beyond what others can see. There are also people with the gift to communicate, inspire and mobilise to achieve their vision. There are strategic leaders. Think about it as it is important to know what kind of leaders you are and want to become.”

Fonda, 70, known for her political activism and strong opposition to the Vietnam war, said young women needed empathy and compassion, and to be good leaders it was important to be able to listen to others.

Comparing the volcanic activity in America’s Yellowstone Park in Wyoming to young women and men, Fonda said, “I have witnessed the equivalent of that steam and hot mud wobbling up all over the world, in the form of women and men, who are rising up to become a volcano. I am here to challenge you to become volcanoes.”

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York and a former member of the British Royal Family, said it was important for women to dare to dream. “You should dare to dream and if you go through a few knots in life, embrace them and get going,” she said, adding, “communication, compromise and compassion is the key.”

Ferguson, who dons several hats, that of a philanthropist, CEO, advocate, author and a mother, told students that she was from the university of life, where it was necessary to fight and be motivated, besides being independent.

She added that she had learned to ‘live and give’ as a mother.

Welcoming the students and delegates, Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and President of Zayed University, said, “When we think of gifted leaders, we also notice common traits and abilities.

“Throughout history, women leaders, in particular, have been known for their courage. Indeed, it is often the case that it has been this courage, combined with the skills of leadership, that has made possible the accomplishments for which these women are recognised and remembered as influential leaders.”

He added, “From the women leaders who speak at this conference, you will hear of obstacles, setbacks, limits and even failures.

“What makes these women remarkable as leaders is the determination, the skills, and the gifts that have allowed them to face adversity and still move forward.”

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