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Kuwait, EU, international partners discuss women’s empowerment solutions

KUWAIT: The participants in a group photo.

KUWAIT: The General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development (GSSCPD), the Delegation of the European Union to the State of Kuwait, UNDP, UN Women, Al-Hamra Real Estate Company and the Women’s Research and Studies Center at the College of Social Sciences at Kuwait University, supported by Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, convened a high-level event which served as a platform for new private sector commitment to women’s economic empowerment.

Topics addressed included Kuwait’s path to accelerate gender diversity in the workplace in line with Kuwait’s 2035 Vision and its international commitment and collaboration with global partners. The event also addressed the importance of women’s full participation in the labor market, as the global economy recovers from the pandemic and businesses pursue more purpose and diversity-driven agendas.

Dr Khaled Mahdi, Secretary General of the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development; Dr Cristian Tudor, Ambassador of the European Union to the State of Kuwait and Dr Lubna Alkazi, Director, Women’s Research and Studies Center at Kuwait University, gave the opening remarks, whilst Ambassador Talal Al-Mutairi, Assistant Foreign Minister for Human Rights, Kuwait Ministry of Foreign Affairs, provided the keynote address. Other speakers included senior government speakers, EU officials, UN experts and private sector leaders who are charting new pathways to accelerate gender equality in their organizations.

Speakers from across Kuwait and the European Union exchanged best practices both from the public and private sector, including Hana Alhajeri, Head of the Higher Council for Women’s Affairs; Mr. Stefan Schleuning, Head of Unit, Foreign Policy Instruments at the European Commission; Abrar Al-Habib, Chief Administrative Officer of Al-Hamra Real Estate Co and Hedwige Nuyens, Chairwoman of Women on Boards and CEO of the International Banking Federation.

During the event, 14 new Kuwaiti private sector companies publicly committed to the UN Women’s Economic Principles (WEPs), a roadmap for businesses on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. The seven principles highlight the gender dimension of corporate responsibility and are designed to support companies in reviewing and monitoring existing policies and practices-or establishing new ones-to realize women’s empowerment.

Those include the Commercial Bank of Kuwait, Kamco Invest, Agility, Tamdeen Group, American University of Kuwait, Aljarida Newspaper, TABCo Foods, Wara Hospital Kuwait, Adlouni and Partners, Mona Abdullah Alarbash Law Firm, Rawd Al Saleheen Bilingual School, Khayal Consultants, ABCK-AM Kuwait, Royal Victoria Medical Center, who joined the thirty Kuwaiti companies who had already signed up to the WEPs. The new signatories expand the WEP community to new sectors, such as the private education and healthcare sectors.

Speaking on initiatives to promote higher gender equality at Al-Hamra Real Estate Co, AlHabib said: ‘Hosting the event for signing the Women’s Empowerment Principles, and high-level dialogue today at our venue was an honor and testament to our goal to collectively create an inclusive corporate culture for everyone. Now, more than ever, we need to fortify our efforts to build resilient economies. With our current best practices in place that will continue to be reinforced, we have also identified several new strategies that will mobilize various resources to educate, strengthen, upskill, and empower the women workforce and our communities to be successful in the long run.”

Addressing why women’s empowerment matters to business, Nawal Mulla-Hussain, Managing Director of Support Operations at Kamco said: “We are pleased to commit to the WEPs, which are in line with our sustainable development plan, our continuing commitment to empowering women in the workplace and supporting our advocacy of gender equality. Women’s empowerment and equality is one of the 17 UNDP’s Sustainable Development Goals which is being currently integrated within our business model. Kamco Invest will continue to build on its sustainable development agenda and further develop a sustainable business ecosystem that paves the way for building the aspired modern state.”

Stefan Schleuning, Head of Unit, Foreign Policy Instruments, European Commission, stated: “As we move closer towards the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU is putting women at the heart of the recovery. Stronger engagement on gender equality is key to a sustainable global recovery and building fairer, more inclusive, more prosperous societies. Indeed, estimates show that advancing gender equality could add about €11 to €21 trillion to global GDP by 2025.”

Hideko Hadzialic, Resident Representative of UNDP said: ”The increase in female employment in Kuwait between 2014 and 2018 was 2.7 times that of males and was higher than males for both Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaiti women. Private sector plays a key role by incorporating a gender perspective into companies’ overall management system and increasing women’s role in decision making in leadership positions.” The event, moderated by Bibi Khudari, prominent journalist, reporter and TV presenter, brought together government representatives, diplomatic missions, UN representatives, private sector companies, media and other guests.

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