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New coalition for women leaders launched in MENA

United Arab Emirates: Monday, May 07 - 2012 @ 15:51

In the last decade, the MENA region has witnessed extraordinary social and political upheaval, with women often on the frontlines of popular action driving change. Despite the vast transformations already seen, the position of women remains restricted in many countries.

Launched this month at major sub-regional conferences in Tunis, Dubai and Amman, Alwane stands for the coalition of Active Leaders for Women’s Advancement in the Near East. In Arabic, “alwane” (pronounced Al-WA-nee) means “my colors,” a phrase which evokes both the ability to paint our own future and the power of diversity in leading change.

Comprised of 17 national committees representing each Arab country, Alwane will seek to raise awareness, generate discussion and motivate change around the principal challenges to women’s full participation in society.

Operating at both a national and regional level, using innovative online platforms and engaging young, new voices, Alwane will directly inform and connect with the public, raising the profile of the most pressing issues facing women today.

At the sub-regional meeting held in Dubai, committees from the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia built a unified vision on enabling women’s leadership in the MENA region. Each country discussed the most pressing challenges facing women and developed an advocacy action plan to address these issues.

The Emirati committee identified issues relating to working mothers, maternity leave and child custody, alongside disabled women’s employment rights, as the foremost concerns facing women in the UAE today.

Sameera Arbabi, a member of the Alwane UAE Committee, said, “We are delighted to have the opportunity to join this coalition and pledge to work tirelessly to create avenues for positive change. Through Alwane we can highlight the problems that we face and inspire a renaissance in attitudes towards women in the UAE.”

Commenting on the launch, Kerri Kennedy, Executive Director of Women’s Campaign International (WCI), the sponsoring organisation of Alwane, said, “The strength of this coalition lies in the diversity of experiences, knowledge and backgrounds. Alwane celebrates the richness of talent and vision among women from 17 Arab countries, providing a voice for the concerns and challenges that women’s leadership faces in the MENA region. We are bridging the gap between generations, widening horizons and spearheading dynamic new agendas for change in the region.”

Through sophisticated advocacy campaigns and targeted policy recommendations, the Alwane country committees will make significant progress for women across the Arab world. The committees include leading experts and academics of different genders from each country, as well as youth members adding their own distinct voice.

Central to Alwane’s philosophy is intergenerational cooperation, creating a sustainable, long-term coalition by nurturing future women leaders in a comprehensive mentorship programme.

Enhancing the programme is an extensive online network, enabling users to share and discuss their ideas on the major contemporary challenges facing women in the MENA region.

The climax of the Alwane Coalition’s activity this year will be a regional summit in November held in Amman, where the committees from all 17 countries will gather to share their success stories and sign a Convention on the Advancement of Women’s Leadership in the region.

Maali Qasem, Regional Director of Alwane, emphasised the public’s important role in the programme, “We encourage everyone to join Alwane’s online community. You are our inspiration, and as witnesses in your own society you are best placed to direct our work. Anyone who feels passionately about furthering women’s leadership in our region can strengthen our coalition by adding their voice and unique insights into the central issues and obstacles facing women today. We want you to share your knowledge, experiences and perspectives to help us build momentum and create a new future for women across the MENA.”

The Alwane programme is powered by Women’s Campaign International, An international NGO dedicated to furthering the rights of women across the world.

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Monday, May 7- 2012 @ 15:51 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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