“The UAE is considered a role model for supporting and empowering women. 57 percent of GCC women operate their own business – a significant achievement. The White Hands Campaign, launched by The Arab Women provides assistance to women regarding their rights; arming them with greater independence. I want to thank each one we have helped to obtain their leadership role in society. I am also proud to be asked to speak at this forum, which is increasing focus on the expanding areas of women, based on research from experts and elite leaders with exceptional ideas,” said Rihab Zein El Den Ambassador of the Arab Women on day one of the 4th Annual Women In Leadership Forum Middle East & Africa.
Held under the endorsement of HE Dr Maitha Salem Al Shamsi, Minister of State, UAE, the two-day business summit is the brainchild of French business information group naseba. More than 300 local and international business leaders discussed the theme of women’s leadership and how to maximise economic opportunities for women across the region by providing the jobs needed to accelerate human development.
And given the relevant topics the leading women’s initiative is addressing, it is no surprise it has support from a number of global and regional organisations including MasterCard, Roche, CNN, Microsoft, Emirates NBD, and Fortune Arabia.
Demographics played a key role in the discussions today. Jill Nealon, Senior Vice President of Human Resources & Development at Dubai Airports, one of the forum’s sponsors, highlighted why diversity and inclusion is crucial in business today: “If you educate women you educate the nation – this is a phrase I like to share. We have been working hard for many years to initiate Dubai Airport’s programme.”
She continued: “This year we will see 53 million people go through Dubai airports, making it the third busiest airport in the world. Challenges mean we have to do a lot more with a lot less and access every pool of talent resource. 55,000 Emirati women are available to work and 68% of UAE women are unemployed.” Dubai Airports also rewarded ten of their employees with the Danaat Awards for outstanding accomplishments during the forum today.
Essa Al Mulla, Executive Director of Emirates Nationals Development Programme, elaborated on the major obstacles facing women as part of the Emiratisation drive. A solid debate was enriched further by industry-specific insights from Fatima Al Jaber, Chairperson of Abu Dhabi Businesswomen Council and HE Suhair Al Ali, Senior Advisor of Penta Advisory and Former Senator and Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Jordan.
Developing sustainable policies for creating economic opportunities for women is another key challenge for the region, and was addressed during a roundtable discussion. Involved in this intriguing and highly relevant conversation were Mohammad Naciri, Deputy Regional Director of the Arab States Regional Centre, United Nations; Nadereh Chamlou, Senior Advisor to the Chief Economist for the MENA region, World Bank, USA; and Dr Maryam Matar, Founder and Board Chairman of UAE Genetic Diseases Association.
Sophie Le Ray, founder of the Women in Leadership Series and CEO of naseba, concluded: “Economic growth in the MENA region has been remarkable, but there are still challenges such as creating jobs and empowering women from an economic and political standpoint. Two thirds of women in the region are still not employed and only two out of 54 countries are led by women. Diversity and inclusion is not a moral obligation, it’s a business imperative. Over the past four years we have recognised that to empower women, nations must recognise the competitive advantage [of women]. The objective of this forum is to enable networking, learning, development and economic opportunities.”
Thursday, November 22- 2012 @ 10:59 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.