Need for women’s empowerment stressed

DUBAI — Despite achievements made by in some Arab countries, especially the UAE, including assuming top managerial and decision-making positions, there still exists a need for their empowerment and more encouragement from the society as well as the governments.

By Afkar Abdullah And Amira Agarib

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Published: Tue 23 Oct 2007, 8:44 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:52 AM

This was stated by several speakers at the New Arab Woman Forum which concluded at the Emirates Tower Hotel in Dubai yesterday.

The concluding day of the conference, that was held under the patronage of Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, discussed topics, including women and beauty, women and money, investing in social changes, and women in business.

Nabila Al Anjari, CEO and Advisor, Grand Real Estate, Kuwait, highlighted the social obstacles that Arab women face in business, saying that Arab women’s contribution to public life remains relatively limited despite the progress in some countries where women have started to gain more influence.

“Women empowerment would contribute to economic growth by powerful role that needed to be promoted by society and decision makers,” she said.

Dr. Lama Abdul Aziz Suleiman, Board member, Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Saudi Arabia, highlighted the plight of Saudi women by alleging that they are facing social obstacles that hinder their advancement.

“Women in Saudi are not given licence in their name to run their own business. It has to be in the name of man, such as husband, brothers, father or any close relative. The presence of Saudi women in labour force is only 14 per cent. They only work in education, health and social fields. Women graduates in other fields are not allowed to work even if they have higher qualifications,” she said, adding that despite all the challenges that face Saudi women, efforts are being made by various sectors for advancement and development of women.

Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the forum, Princess Jawaher bin Turki and Nouf bin Turki from Saudi Arabia said that the obstacles that hinder women’s progress is created by the society which treats women as “weak creatures.”

“There are many rules issued by the Saudi government to encourage women to participate in the country’s development, but these rules are only on paper, not implemented,” they said. “However, as members of the Saudi royal family we are making efforts to liberate Saudi women along with other women and bring about some changes in their status in the society,” they pointed out out. Also speaking on the occasion, Sharla Musabih, Human Rights Activist in Dubai, noted that the Arab women still need to be empowered to protect themselves from domestic violence. She said that the forum was a good opportunity to help women from various countries to get together to discuss their issues.

“The conference should be more comprehensive to discuss issues like violence and abuse, sexual harassment at workplace that face women and various human rights topics,” she pointed out.


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