Sheikha Hind bint Majid Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC), has shed light on the growing international consensus about the vital role women play in driving nations towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development, stressing that this must be turned into workable policies, plans and methodologies.
The statement came during her participation in the two-day Arab-African Conference for Businesswomen (AACBW), which was organised recently in Morocco.
Sheikha Hind Al Qasimi noted: “In the UAE, particularly in Sharjah, SBWC works to fulfil the directives of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, offering ambitious women a vibrant platform to bring out their key entrepreneurial skills. In doing so, we have successfully progressed in supporting and empowering women and ensured their advancement at the workplace and in society,” she added.
The conference was organised by the Arab Union for Industrial Exports Development (AUIED) and Moroccan Agency for Investment & Export Development (AMDIE) under the theme ‘Achieving SDGs through Supporting Women Entrepreneurs’. The conference highlighted the vital role of Arab and African women in industrial development, and brought together experts to explore ways to enhance their presence in export-oriented industries through small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The conference offered a key networking platform where prospects for stronger cooperation between Arab and African businesswomen through partnerships and collaboration were discussed. It shared successful experiences of Arab and African women in various sectors.
Sheikha Hind also spoke at a discussion session titled, ‘How Innovation Enhances the Role of Women Entrepreneurs in Economic Development’. It shed light on three key topics; women’s participation in the growing digital economy, how women’s entrepreneurial competencies can be reinforced through training, technical expertise and technology, and finally the role of Information Technology (IT) and social media in empowering women entrepreneurs.
During the discussions, the Chairperson of SBWC cited a recent study conducted by the European Commission (EC), Increase in Gender Gap in the Digital Sector – Study on Women in the Digital Age, noting that: “For every 1,000 female tertiary graduates in the EU, only 24 are graduates in ICT-related fields. Of these 24 graduates, only 6 women end up working in digital jobs.”
She emphasised that Sharjah seeks to empower women and offer them the opportunity to play a more effective role in the digital age, in line with the vision of the nation’s wise leadership, by working with schools, universities, vocational training institutions, companies, public departments and local communities to bridge the gender gap in the ICT field, particularly in skills and job opportunities.
The opening ceremony of the Arab-African Conference for Businesswomen (AACBW) was attended by Moulay Hafid Elalamy, Minister of Industry, Investment, Trade and Digital Economy of Morocco; Olivia Hajar Nguema Obiang, Minister Delegate attached to the Minister of State, Minister of Employment, Youth, Vocational Training, Integration and Reintegration of Gabon; Yvonne-Adélaïde Mougany, Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Crafts and Informal Sector of Congo; Soraya Hakuziyaremye, Minister of Trade and Industry of Rwanda.
Other attendees included Nawal Berrada, Director of Women, Family and Children of the General Secretariat of the League of Arab States; Hanan Hanzaz, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Representative in Morocco; Dr. Amany Asfour, President of International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW International); and Abdel Moneim Mohammed Mahmoud, Secretary General of Arab Union for Industrial Exports Development (AUIED).