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Sharjah hosts WEEGS
BY WILLIAM FARIA December 05, 2017
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SHARJAH: His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, on Monday attended the inaugural edition of the Women’s Economic Empowerment Global Summit (WEEGS 2017) that opened at the Sharjah Expo Centre venue.

Over 1,000-plus participants gathered for the two-day high profile event to discuss ways to enhance gender-responsive procurement, female entrepreneurship opportunities and women’s integration into global economies.

The inaugural event is being held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawahar Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of Nama Women Advancement Establishment, a public non-profit organisation that believes women are important human capital and works towards their advancement.

GOAL

WEEGS 2017 puts a spotlight on the ways governments, private sectors, international organisations and civil society can work together to make value chains work for women, enable the full participation of women-owned enterprises in value chains, create decent jobs for women, and provide equal opportunities for women entrepreneurs locally and globally, according to a statement from Nama.

Thanking attendees from around the world for their enthusiastic participation at the summit, Sheikha Jawaher remarked: “Investing in women and girls is key to sustainable development. The Women’s Economic Empowerment Global Summit is a celebration of women’s achievements around the world. It has been conceived as a catalyst for positive change. Over the next two days, we will explore new opportunities to advance women’s status in the economy, assessing the ground realities they face locally, in the region and the world.

“Research claims that engaging more women in the private sector will increase labour productivity by as much as 25 per cent in some countries. This clearly shows that a substantial fraction of the world’s human resource remains untapped, barring them access to job markets and hampers their ability to enjoy equal opportunities.”

UAE ACHIEVEMENTS


The Nama Chairperson highlighted the achievements of the UAE in providing women equal opportunities to realise their full potential, noting that they account for 70 per cent of university students in the country, represent 46.6 per cent of the total workforce in government and private organisations, and constitute 66 per cent of the public sector workforce, of which 30 percent are leadership positions.

In her keynote address, the UAE Minister of Tolerance, Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak, also shed light on the importance of the event, saying: “Allow me to express my pleasure to be here today. This summit is supported by the UAE General Women’s Union as part of its efforts to influence the global decision-making process that will ensure women’s integration into the economy. I thank His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and his wife for their presence and patronage; which clearly reflects their keen interest in advancing the role of women in Sharjah and the UAE.

“WEEGS has given us a platform to galvanise our actions in making women a key component of society. Our country is a role model for successful initiatives in the development of women. Women here are aware of their roles at the workplace and society. Through events like this, we will take these accomplishments to greater heights.

“We look forward to hearing your thoughts and recommendations. Your experiences will be valuable to us in enabling women to play a pivotal role in the economy. Tolerance, inclusion and equality are our goals in alignment with the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. Allow me to highlight that women’s empowerment is a main priority in the UAE as it supports humanitarian development in general.”

“Raising women’s salaries to match those given to men at similar positions, giving them healthcare and professional training, and enabling them to be equal partners in society are the need of the hour. We need to look into new technologies and resources that will empower women. Data collection, statistics and studies, and supportive regulations and legislations in the field must be encouraged,” Al Nahyan added.

The Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women, Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka took the floor next, and expressing her excitement about yet another successful collaboration with Nama, she said: “Our partnership with NAMA has grown and strengthened since our meeting at the UN General Assembly in 2016. The UAE is one of the champions who is implementing the report of the UN Secretary General, and this summit is an example of how the report’s recommendations are not just catching dust in an office shelf.

Commending the way women have excelled in the UAE’s economy, she highlighted the need for the same to be applied to the rest of the world. She noted that women need access to productive assets and resources, to technology, to equal pay, and need to be capacitated to start and grow their own businesses as these are all strong indicators of women excelling in economy – the theme of the summit. She emphasised the dire need for women to live free from violence, free from fear at home or at work so that they can prosper without stress that comes with being subjected to violence. “In some countries, the average impact of this violence is 3 percent of their annual GDP, but remains unacknowledged or even understood,” she remarked.

“We know that if women played an identical role to men in labour markets, as much as USD 28,000 trillion or 26 percent could be added to the global annual GDP by 2025. This is a lot of money, and represents a major impact on the economy of the world. It is us gathered here who are trying to make this a reality. We are here to assess and remove the multitude of restrains that women face step by step,” Phumzile added.

Later on, Sheikh Sultan awarded the 20 pledging entities, which include the Sharjah Media Corporation (SMC); Sharjah International Airport Free Zone (SAIF Zone Authority); Sharjah Economic Development Department (Seed); Sharjah Electricity & Water Authority (Sewa); Sharjah Education Council (SEC); Sharjah Tourism & Commerce Development Authority (SCTDA); Sharjah Investment & Development Authority (Shurooq); Sharjah City Municipality (SCM); Mubadala Investment Company; Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar); Crescent Group & Gulftainer; The Abraaj Group; Sharjah Women’s Sports Foundation (SWSF); Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS); Ruwad Establishment; Global Thinkers Forum; Health Promotion Department (Supreme Council of Family Affairs); Women Dare @ 50+; Sharjah Museums Authority; and a group of corporates including Citi, Procter and Gamble, Accenture, Ernst and Young, and WeConnect International.

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