December 10th, 2019, Sharjah (UAE): Change-makers, influencers, and entrepreneurs from across the UAE and the world conducted a total of 14 informative workshops on the first day of Women’s Economic Empowerment Global Summit (WEEGS), that was inaugurated today at the Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre (JRCC) in Sharjah.
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council, and Ruler of Sharjah and Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA), the second edition of the two-day Summit is being organised by NAMA in collaboration with UN Women, under the theme ‘Drivers of Change’.
The workshops covered the four pillars identified by WEEGS 2019, namely, gender-responsive procurement, women’s participation in value chains, the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), and women’s access to finance. They sought to explore effective routes to promote women’s economic participation and advancement across sectors by engaging participants in strategy development, goal setting, and discussions on the effective and sustainable implementation of solutions in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Leadership lessons from businesswomen
At Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC)’s Exchange, Engage, Excel with #SBWCTalks, participants shared knowledge, explored best practices, and learnt from successful businesswomen in different sectors.
During the session, Sheikha Hind Bint Majid Al Qasimi, Chairperson of SBWC, said, “We are committed to the economic empowerment of women by opening discussions among entrepreneurs and sharing inspiring stories of successful businesswomen with the larger community of the nation’s female entrepreneurs and business owners. Today, the world economy is moving towards a stronger entrepreneurial sector, and the future holds endless opportunities for us.”
Sharing her journey of entrepreneurship, Hessa Al Ajmani, an Emirati visual artist and the founder of Clay Corner Studio, the first public art studio in Ajman, said, “Initially one has apprehensions about how to take the first steps; where to begin. But after careful consideration, we realise that youth is the best time to experiment, take risks, make mistakes and learn from them. Remember, building a strong foundation gives you stability in the long run.”
Healthcare, art, and more
The Women empowerment in healthcare sector workshop by HE Sawsan Jafar, Chairperson of the Friends Of Cancer Patients (FOCP) Board of Directors and Dr Sawsan Al Madhi, Director General of FOCP discussed the importance of empowering women with reliable information and providing them with tools necessary for better health.
Aamena Khan, PwC, Financial Services People & Organisation Leader conducted a workshop titled Responding to the Future of Work that examined labour market trends and explained how programming can reflect discriminatory bias and structural inequality.
She said, “Understanding the rapidly changing world of work is pivotal to preparing organisations and individuals for the future of work. While the region has taken significant steps to embrace diversity in the workplace and raise awareness of its positive impact on organisational success, inclusivity remains a key risk factor that hinders success with progress lagging globally. Most notably in the region, the highest overall risk related to unleashing inclusive performance was found to be in the use of data analysis to de-bias hiring and rewards.”
Business diversity and mentorship
A workshop titled Comprehensive approaches to building business diversity was presented by Norma Taki, Transaction Services Partner and Consumer Markets Leader, PwC Middle East, while Start here: Impact, business, and your story by Philip Harding, CEO of IMPACT JUNKIE, focused on using entrepreneurship to address real-life needs.
Providing an opportunity for participants to seek mentorship from a diverse group of mentors, the Mentors Hubworkshop featured Dr Mona Al Ali, Manager at Badiri Education and Development Academy; Zeina Al Sharif, Business Development Manager, Urban Retreat Restaurant company LLC; Roula Azar Douglas, writer, journalist, and researcher at Saint-Joseph University Beirut; Sadaffe Abid, CEO and Founder of CIRCLE; and Dr Sharon M. Schweitzer, Cross-Cultural Business Consultant, Author & Attorney – Access to Culture.
In the workshop titled Professional learning for women, Dr. Rashid Al Riyami Assistant Professor, Foundation of Education (CEDU), introduced the concepts, procedures and skills for leading a professional learning community for women, in order to enable attendees to develop and construct their own organisation as learning communities in actual business settings.
Amal Saad, Managing Director of Wide Impact, presented ABC’s of Negotiation, a workshop for women entrepreneurs lacking negotiation skills and Hopscotch and UN Women explored design thinking methodologies in an interesting workshop.
Let’s Talk Through Art, a workshop presented by Anaa Merchant, Collage Art Supervisor, Sharjah Ladies Club, focused on tackling global issues with the help of art and public speaking, while Sustainable Consumption by Eman Nimer, Senior Administrator at Sharjah Girl Guides, took up the topic of environmental awareness and advocated the cause of eco-friendly practices in business.
Another interactive workshop titled 5 ways for Women Entrepreneurs to Rule their Education Business, conducted by Jana Bou Reslan from Badiri, explored creative ways for women to understand the use of tools like knowledge diplomacy and digitisation in education business. A workshop named From Passion to Business by Eiman Murad from Badiri, identified the three pillars to transform a passion into a commercial venture. 101 Training by Nihal Hashish from UN Women took up the topic of fundamentals of procurement and sourcing, and due diligence processes required to seal deals with corporate houses, and Amplifying Personal Brand & Presence session by UN Women looked at using storytelling to deliver meaningful, authentic messages in support of brand values.