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UEA economic minister calls for women's greater role
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 22 - 11 - 2014

Distinguished participants were honored with achievement awards at the Women in Leadership (WIL) Economic Forum on Thursday. The honorees, including Sultan Bin Saeed Al-Mansoori, Cherie Blaire and Sheikha Hissah Saad Abdulah Salem Al-Sabah, were acknowledged for their outstanding contributions to economic development at a fitting ceremony. — Courtesy photo


DUBAI — The economic minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday called for greater inclusion of women in the key sector of the world's economy.
Sultan Bin Saeed Al-Mansouri made the call at the 16th edition of the Women in Leadership Economic Forum (WIL) which opened in Dubai on Thursday.
The minister said greater advancements could be made in the area of public and private sector partnership through “the measurement and public reportage of progress achieved in gender equality within organizations”.
In his keynote speech, Al-Mansouri commended the progress achieved by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on women empowerment.
“The UAE as a nation has registered significant milestones in women empowerment. I am very proud to share that the UAE was ranked number one in the world for respecting women, according to a report launched by the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council," he said.
"We were also ranked first among Arab countries in enabling women in leadership and in parliament according to the Women Studies Center at the Arab Women Establishment in Paris,” he added.
The WIL Economic Forum 2014 is being hosted by The Meydan Hotel under the patronage of the UAE Ministry of Economy. Organized by Naseba, a business information company that facilitates business platforms across several industries and five continents for development in emerging markets, the forum closed on Friday.
The forum convened "thought" leaders from around the world and from various industries to discuss issues relevant to women's empowerment and to offer solutions to the challenges women face in today's dynamic business landscape.
The event placed a special focus on addressing ‘womenomics', or the need to redesign economies to ensure greater inclusiveness of women in societies.
Emphasizing the importance of supporting the economic empowerment of women, Cherie Blair, Founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, said: “Women's economic empowerment is not an option, it is imperative to make societies succeed. Women here are recognizing the benefit of becoming an entrepreneur and there is an ever-increasing number of success stories of women who run their own businesses in UAE. From my experience, it shows that if you give women the right tools, they will absolutely finish the job.”

Margery Kraus, Chairperson of the event and Founder and Chief Executive Officer of APCO Worldwide, said In her official opening address: “That the UAE has swiftly elevated the status of its women within four decades of nationhood speaks volumes for the effective vision of its leadership. Still, in the wise words of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, ‘the road to excellence is a never-ending journey.' And the UAE has an exciting road ahead.”
Speaking on the theme of the current session, Sophie Le Ray, founder of the WIL Series and CEO of naseba, said: “At this year's WIL conference, the focus is on knocking down stereotypes and debating the real-life issues women face as they climb the professional ladder. We hope WIL acts as a springboard for new ideas and helps bring about a paradigm shift in conversations regarding gender parity.”
The first day of the event witnessed several thought sessions, panel discussions and think tanks focusing on the role of women in transforming economies by looking more closely at the implementation of gender parity and diversity in the professional context.
The sessions also offered an understanding of the impact that the integration of women can have on the future of economies, from a womenomics perspective.
A key participant in WIL, Wendy Alexander, Associate Dean, Global Business, London Business School, said: “Businesses today operate in a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – sometimes called a VUCA environment. Women are ideally suited to lead in such an environment. Their lives teach them to juggle diverse roles, they are typically adept at managing complexity, coping with ambiguity and bringing clarity to situations characterized by uncertainty.”
Moritz Hartmann, General Manager, Roche Diagnostics Middle East, remarked: “It is only until male leaders experience the power of diversity that they will realize the value of developing their female peers alongside them.
I know the value and immeasurable input that is brought to the table when there is a healthy balance between male and female leaders. It is the responsibility of the decision-makers in an organization, who majority-wise are still men, to cultivate this work environment of inclusion and adopt gender diversity as a basic component of their business model.”
The second theme of the day tackled the issue of entrepreneurship, innovation and women as the engines of economic growth and sustainable development.
For Nathalie Amiel-Ferrault, FedEx Vice President, EMEA Customer Experience and MEIA Marketing & Communications, the important learning from such events is the creation of opportunities for women.
“As women across the world play an increasing role in non-traditional industries, including logistics, we will continue to create opportunities for more women to work and lead. These opportunities range from supporting SMEs owned by women to offering numerous team members, education and training programs with a focus on gender equality,” Amiel-Ferrault said.
The final session of the day focused on the future investment scenario, and the role of women as both investors and investees.
Finally, the day witnessed the recognition of business leaders and organizations for their outstanding contributions to economic development surrounding women in leadership principles in the context of the WIL achievement award ceremony.
Among others, Sheikha Hissah Saad Abdulah Salem Al-Sabah was honored for her work as a leading woman in the public sector.
Sultan Bin Saeed Al-Mansoori and Cherie Blair each received honorary achievement awards to mark their contributions to empowering women in their respective fields. — SG


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