Put women in charge

Emirati women have recorded an annual growth rate of 25 per cent in their participation in the country’s workforce over the last several years.

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Published: Tue 20 Nov 2012, 8:51 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:28 PM

The UAE is very keen on training more women for leadership roles and is aiming to spend Dh12.4 billion in this regard, said FNC Speaker Dr Mohammad Ahmed Al Murr, at the third Arab Women Leadership Forum.

The two-day forum was launched in the presence of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and is led by Shaikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Women’s Establishment and wife of Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

Also present at the opening ceremony were Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai; Princess Ameerah Al Taweel, Vice Chairwoman and General Secretary of the Al Waleed bin Talal Foundation; and Dr Mohammad Ahmed Al Murr, Speaker of the UAE Federal National Council.

The forum this year explores issues related to women’s participation in high-ranking corporate positions and ways and means to bring about a proportionate representation of women by providing them a work-life balance, proper training and developmental opportunities, and fostering a culture of greater respect and acceptance of women in the boardroom.

Prior to the inauguration, Shaikh Mohammed toured an art exhibition on the theme of women’s empowerment featuring eight Emirati women artists, which he himself named “Woman Seeking Her Rightful Place”.

Narrating the story of Hanan, a woman who walked out of an abusive marriage, Princess Ameerah Al Taweel said Hanan trained herself by studying English and becoming computer literate and now trains other women in similar circumstances. “It is time for me to do something for other women.”

“We all face real difficulties in the path of empowering women but empowerment is not lip service or rhetoric - it is an important process and having us all here at this forum is testament to our will to follow this path,” she said.

“We want to send a message that Arab women are capable of contributing economically, politically, educationally, and in all other fields. Empowering women is also one of the ideals of Islam.”

Delivering Shaikha Manal’s speech, Mona Al Marri, Chairperson of the DWE Board, thanked Shaikh Mohammed for his inspiring role in empowering women in the UAE. “Our goal in this forum is not simply to improve our image but to actually have some tangible takeaway in the empowerment of women. Shaikh Mohammed believes women are the pride of this country and we will prove him right.” Earlier, in a highly interactive opening session, a panel of distinguished speakers delved into the theme of “Women’s Leadership in Sustaining Economic Development”, putting forward the case for including more women in both the public and private sectors and the benefits thereof.

Speaking about the benefits of gender diversity and the ways to enable women to claim their rightful places at the top of the corporate hierarchy, Maali Qasem, CEO and Founder of Schema, Jordan, said the society needs to respect and admire women for their achievements rather than criticize them.

Noura Al Kaabi, Member of the UAE Federal National Council and CEO of twofour54, said the UAE’s founding president, the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, was a great supporter of Emirati women. “Nothing made him happier than to see women achieve their potential.”

Talking about women’s empowerment in South Korea, Tae Shin Kwon, Vice-Chairman of the Presidential Council on National Competitiveness, said in South Korea the last bastions of male dominance, such as politics and law, have now fallen and there is a women presidential candidate as well as a previous woman prime minister.

“The launch of the Ministry of Gender Equality has been a landmark step and it has taken many steps to provide equal opportunities to women.”

Sara Akbar shared her experience in her journey towards forming Kuwait Energy, the company that she heads. “I had to fight from day one to get what was rightfully mine. Ask for what is yours,” she told the assembled women.

Nadereh Chamiou, who has worked for the last 10 years in the region in the field of women’s empowerment, said only one in three women who are able to work are actually working. “Women need to be empowered at the leadership level.”

ahmedshaaban@khaleejtimes.com



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