Recent initiatives here in the UAE confirm the understanding that empowering women in the workplace, and implementing diversity and inclusion are more than a social responsibility; they are a necessity for economic growth.
In fact the UAE’s policy making it compulsory for companies and government agencies to appoint more women to their boards was emphasised by HE Maryam Mohammed Khalfan Al Roumi, UAE’s Minister of Social Affairs, during her official opening of the 5th Annual WIL Forum Middle East and Africa.
“There are women present today in the cabinet, [in roles] where decisions are made. Most rules and regulations do not differ between men and women, particularly in the economic sector. This should encourage and help to drive the role of women in both economic and social sectors. I’m not underestimating the achievements of MENA-based women in the past few decades, but I hope [in the future] to see more effective efforts and cooperation and knowledge sharing,” explained Her Excellency.
The two-day forumis hosting over 200 of the region’s most powerful businesswomen and leaders to knowledge share, learn, network and forge new business relationships. It is the brainchild of French deal facilitation group naseba, and held under HE’s patronage.
Her Excellency also highlighted the achievements of women in the workforce: “We notice that companies managed by women usually get their social responsibilities done, without even being asked. 65% of women here are part of the work force; with about half of them in senior positions. I hope SME projects established by women get the required financial support from banks and funding institutions.”
She summarised the impact of the WIL Forum by saying: “I would like to invite participants in this forum to recognise the opportunities and benefit from them to adopt new strategies. I hope this forum will result in recommendations and findings that help supporting and empower women.”
Her Excellency also presented trophies to the four winners of the WIL Achievement Awards:
• Leading Businesswoman of the Year: Mona Bawarshi, President and CEO of Gezairi Transport, Lebanon
• Most Innovative Woman Entrepreneur of the Year: Amal Al –Shunnar, Medical Director & Partner of FAKIH IVF
• Male Champion of Change: CemBoyner, CEO of Boyner Holding, Turkey
• Most Women-Friendly Employer: Henkel Middle East and Africa
This morning’s proceedings also featured a keynote from Dr. Nemat Shafik, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (USA), who highlighted the importance of women’s economic success.
“The IMF can help by promoting inclusive growth, working with others, designing gender-smart fiscal policies and planning for the future. Women’s contributions can enhance the growth prospects of the MENA region. Although female participation in the UAE labour force is strong, in the wider MENA region it is [only] 20%,” noted Nemat.
In addition, Nemat explained that women are becoming increasingly affluent and influential, earning $12 trillion in annual income globally, a figure that is expected to grow by more than 30% to $16.5 trillion by 2014.
“We havelong shared the UAE government’s mission of appointing more women at board level. During the past couple of years, through all our global platforms,we have been able to successfully showcase the benefits of the worldwide implementation of gender quotas. This forum also provides women executives with a gateway for networkingwith their peers and potential business opportunities,”explained Sophie Le Ray, Founder of the WIL Forum Series and naseba CEO.
Day two opens tomorrow morning withintroductory remarks by HE Ameera Bin Karam, President of the Executive Committee of Sharjah Business Women’s Council.
Thursday, May 30- 2013 @ 13:49 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.