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SHARJAH: In what became one of this year’s most crucial announcements for global women’s economical empowerment, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of the Nama, declared that Nama will be organising the first edition of Women Economic Empowerment Global Summit in Fall 2017, during a Nama–UN Women roundtable held on the sidelines of the second day of ‘Investing in Future’ (Iifmena) conference in Sharjah.

Sheikha Jawaher elucidated how the Global Summit will see the birth of yet another significant collaboration between Nama and UN Women, kicking into action their Equal Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs flagship initiative in Sharjah, the UAE and the rest of the Arab world. The Summit will also further propel their ongoing efforts to deliver on the women’s economic empowerment dimensions of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The three-day Summit’s first edition will be in partnership with UN Women and will feature the first ever business Expo lead purely by female entrepreneurs, managers and owners of SMEs, and executive businesswomen – another pioneering initiative to empower women in economic decision making.

The roundtable was chaired by Sheikha Jawaher alongside with Ameera BinKaram, Vice Chairperson of Nama Women Advancement Establishment; Dr Phumzile Mlambo, Executive Director of UN Women; Hind Alowais, Senior Adviser, UN Women; Meg Jones, Chief of Economic Empowerment division, UN Women; Fiza Farhan, Board member of UN FPI – Women’s Economic Empowerment, Raghda Taryam, board member of Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry and representing SCCI, and saw the participation of successful women entrepreneurs from Brazil, Geneva, Kenya, South Africa, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Various case studies mapping the success stories of women entrepreneurs and women-led organisations were put forth, and policy legislations to support them overcome the various challenges discussed. Strategies to empower women entrepreneurs with a special focus on procurement opportunities were the focus of the roundtable deliberations.

Highlighting education and the right mental conditioning as a precursor to ensuring women’s economic empowerment, Sheikha Jawaher said, “We are all gathered here today because we are strong supporters and activists of women’s economic empowerment. I believe that real empowerment of women can only be realised when we start the process early, teaching our children the values of tolerance, gender equality and equal economic opportunities for women and men. By passing these values to our children from an early age, the empowerment process will be naturalised within the workings of society, and soon there will be a day when we will not have to fight for our rights anymore.”

Emphasising the need for transformative action and revitalised global partnerships, Her Highness added, “Today, to embrace all previous efforts invested to advance woman locally, regionally and globally, Nama will be co-convening ‘Equal Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs’ over the next five years, which is one of the Flagship Programming Initiatives (FPI) under UN Women’s second strategic plan titled Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE).”

“Nama is strategically positioned to aid towards making international initiatives for women locally relevant, for instance, the Pearl Initiative that linked the private sector with global development and CSR practices,” Sheikha Jawaher concluded, focusing on Nama’s role in customising the UN Women’s WEE initiative for the Arab demography.

Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher called on the construction of a graphic base in the region to accumulate all the companies owned by women, so they can be registered within the public and private sector to enrol them within the tendering and purchases operations.

WEE Global Summit 2017 expects to see the attendance of participation of world’s authorities on women’s rights and empowerment, gender equality advocates, governmental and non-governmental representatives, academics, thought leaders, successful women entrepreneurs, and more, within the folds of global decision making in developing policy programmes, and help them influence global policy to secure the interests of local women entrepreneurs.

Sheikha Jawaher thanked Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and the UAE UN Permanent Mission Office in NY for supporting Nama with the WEE FPI and added that Nama looks forward to furthering the strength of the relationship with the UAE UN Permanent Mission and other NGOs and the civil society working towards elevating women globally.

Thanking Sheikha Al Qasimi for her support to the UN Flagship Initiative, Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women, said, “Together we have to define sectors where we see economic opportunities for women. We need to harness their entrepreneurial abilities, introduce legislations which will facilitate both public and private sectors to procure from female entrepreneurs, and identify common opportunities and enablers for women across nations.”

“2030 is the target date for the realisation of women’s empowerment. The clock is ticking, and we must begin now,” she added.

As small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) form the backbone of women’s economic empowerment worldwide, accounting for 90 per cent businesses and generating more than 50 percent employment worldwide, the main focus of the 2017 Global Summit will be to stimulate productive and fruitful economic opportunities for women in Sharjah, and the rest of UAE. Nama will act as the co-conveners of the Summit and Expo, during a series of round table discussions and deliberations, where they will rationalise the UN Women’s FPI within the context of the region.