Women should be proactive in chartering their own destiny

May 11, 2010

Women should use their rights advocacy experience to assume a more proactive role and chart their own destiny, a Qatari woman activist has said.

“For years, women have been known for advocating human justice. They can now use their experiences to help achieve equal benefits for everybody,” Shaikha Hessah Bint Khalifa Al Thani, former Special Rapporteur on Disability of the UN Commission for Social Development Qatar, said. “I invite women all over to play an effective role in changing negative perceptions and push for conditions that guarantee equal opportunities and financial rights for them,” she said at the Qatar International Businesswomen Forum.

Linda Ducharme, Vice President of ExxonMobil Gas & Power Marketing, one of the forum sponsors, said there was a need to reduce the barriers to women’s economic participation.

“While women take up fifty percent of the world’s population, it’s also a known fact that they earn a paltry 10 percent of the world’s income,” she said.

The forum, attended by around 100 women entrepreneurs and professionals, was told that despite the existence of key enablers meant to ensure women’s full participation in economic and social development, there still remains a gaping economic gender rift particularly in the Arab world.

According to participants, the gender gap was largely caused by stifling long-held traditions and procedural bottlenecks.

Ahmad Younis, the head of Strategic Partnerships and Communications at Silatech, a Qatari initiative launched in 2008 to address the need to create new jobs and opportunities for young people in the Arab World, said that participants should adopt a complete turnaround in their outlook and mindset and seize the numerous business opportunities available.

“There is a need to be strategic in the pursuit of your goals all across the board. This will involve relevant training, associating with institutions that offer financial support as well as embracing mentorship,” he said. “Throughout history, individuals who desired change did not wait for it to sail by. They grabbed it. So it is with all of us. If you want to get to the next level, you must be deliberate in that pursuit,” he said.

Opening the forum, Qatar’s state minister for energy welcomed the contributions of Qatari women in developing their country.

“The country’s women-run businesses are not only increasing their participation in the nation-building process, but also contributing to creating a number of new opportunities for its people,” the minister said. “It is heartening to note that Qatari women are taking up challenges in identifying new areas of businesses even though the world was still recovering from the negative impact of the global financial meltdown. Even though the share of entrepreneurs among the Arab women is still low compared to some other regions, it is a matter of immense satisfaction to a country like Qatar that its women are coming forward to set up new and innovative businesses.”



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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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