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Sharjah Ruler inaugurates AIWF Annual Conference at AUS
His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member, Ruler of Sharjah and President of American University of Sharjah (AUS), expressed satisfaction at the university hosting the Arab International Women's Forum (AIWF) Annual Conference this year. His Highness made this statement after the opening ceremony of the AIWF conference held at the university's Main Auditorium today, May 16.
"I am very happy that this conference is taking place in the emirate of Sharjah; an emirate that is distinguished by its constant efforts in the betterment of institutions pertaining to the family," said the Sharjah Ruler. His Highness said that over the last 25 years, Sharjah has constantly worked at enhancing and developing institutions dedicated to future generations. He also thanked Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani, Chairman of the AIWF, and the conference organizers, for their efforts and wished them success.
Themed "Emerging Economies, Emerging Leaderships: Arab Women and Youth as Drivers of Change," the two-day conference brings together Arab and international global leaders to AUS, renowned as one of the leading centers of academic excellence in the Arab world.
During the conference, eminent guest speakers and high profile participants will examine the role of women and youth as drivers of change in emerging economies. In addition to exploring strategies to implement policy recommendations already identified at AIWF's 10th anniversary conference held in London in May last year, the conference will identify enablers for job creation in the region and other emerging economies around the world, taking the unique opportunities presented within the region to help shape future Arab policy, reinforcing the message that gender equality is absolutely vital to sustainable development in the future Arab world.
AUS Chancellor Dr. Peter Heath said in his opening remarks: "I wish to thank the AIWF for the opportunity to work together to find ways to include women and young workers more fully into the private sector as the way forward. AIWF's networking of women entrepreneurs for our national development is more than timely. Many deem it a necessary step." He said that promoting women's entrepreneurship seeds broader and deeper economic progress. "There isn't any way we can increase prosperity and stability throughout the region unless women are full partners in the community, the country, the region and in the world economy," he added.
The opening session was also addressed by Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani, Chairman, AIWF, and Noura Al Noman, Director General of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qassimi's Executive Office. "If we are to achieve gender equality in the region, the Arab community must embrace a sustainable development policy and strategy with a rights-based focus on the Arab world's most precious resource - its people, and especially its women and youth," said Al Kaylani.
In her presentation, Al Noman spoke of the different initiatives and organizations led by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, the wife of the Ruler of Sharjah. "The common denominator between all of these organizations which employ more than 2,000 staff to serve the emirate of Sharjah and beyond isn't only the great role they play in developing society; but also the fact that they are all led by women leaders from Sharjah," said Al Noman. "His Highness' conviction that the education of women should be reinforced by entrusting them with the running and operation of leading organizations is most visible in Sharjah and in Her Highness' organizations," she said.
In her opening remarks, Dr. Nada Mourtada-Sabbah, Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Affairs, said,
"It is my firm belief that our deliberations during the forum's next two days will conclusively demonstrate just how solid the pioneering foundations of Sheikh Dr. Sultan, empowering women and the youthful professionals have proven in building a new Arab Renaissance and this is only normal for such an enlightened Ruler and a well-read scholar and author in his own right."
The conference also included a number of prominent speakers from a diverse field that comprised both the public and the private sectors.
Since its inception, AUS has played a formidable role in providing a forum to highlight and discuss important issues pertaining to gender studies. This significant event crowns the university as a regional hub for women's studies. The university regularly hosts national and international symposia that focus on issues related to academic studies on women's empowerment and growth. It also played a pioneering role in the creation of the UAE Gender and Women's Studies Consortium, the last meeting of which drew renowned scholars from 70 universities across the world to AUS.
Known for its academic excellence and multicultural campus life, one of the core aims of AUS has been the active promotion of women's rights. More than just offering its students a minor in women's studies, AUS faculty members manifest the values of women's empowerment the university encourages among its students," Well known for their active organization of forums on feminism and women's leadership and their robust academic research, AUS faculty continue to author and edit books, monograms and research papers, and have carved a distinct niche for themselves in the field.
Such encouragement has resulted in many of the university's women students and alumnae setting standards of excellence in numerous fields, both at home and abroad. From winning laurels for their innovative industrial designs to being lauded at international film festivals for their poignant and sensitive portrayal of local women's issues, AUS students have been celebrated for their work. Recently, eight women students and alumnae of our College of Architecture, Art and Design were selected to participate in the prestigious SaloneSatellite exhibition held in Milan, Italy. AUS was the first and only design school from the Middle East selected to participate at the event. The university's faculty, students and alumnae are committed to becoming the harbinger of positive change for the empowerment of women not just within the UAE but in the region and beyond.
The AIWF Conference being held at the university examines enablers for job creation in the region and other emerging economies around the world. It will also advance the call for new levels of competency and competitiveness which will contribute to new societal frameworks to empower Arab citizens and shape future Arab policy.
A range of prominent guest speakers will speak at the event, from various countries representing portent international private and public sectors.
The conference seeks to identify and promote factors that have the potential to create real opportunities for women and youth in the Arab world to better their futures, reinforcing the message that gender equality is essential to sustainable development in the future Arab world. Plenary sessions today include "Women's Contribution to Public Life," "Empowering SMEs: Economic Development and the New Arab World," and "Linking Education & Stable, Sustainable Socio-Economic Development."
Plenary sessions tomorrow will cover "Innovators and Entrepreneurs in Emerging Economies: Reaching a New Level of Entrepreneurial Excellence;" "Developing Youth: The Role of Governments and the Private Sector;" "Hidden Potential: New Perspectives on the Role of Women and Youth;" and "How Are Students and Young Entrepreneurs Leveraging Technology and Social Media to Promote a Sustainable Future?"
The conference, organized by the AUS Office of Development and Alumni Affairs (ODAA) and the Arab International Women's Forum (AIWF) in collaboration with the World Bank and MENA OECD Business Council, will continue until tomorrow, May 17.
The opening was attended by numerous government officials, international delegates, senior AUS officials including Dr. Thomas Hochstettler, Provost; Salem Al Qaseer, Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs; Dr. Olin Cleve McDaniel, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration; faculty and staff members, as well as members of the public and the national media.
The conference coincided with the inauguration by His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah of an art exhibition.