Leading women in the UAE shed light on women’s roles in the development process As part of its participation in the eighth edition of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF) 2019, NAMA Women Advancement Establishment held a session titled ‘Pioneering Thought of Women Advancement’ where speakers highlighted the importance of developing a culture that is supportive of women, and believes in the important role they play in the development and progress of society. Moderated by Ms. Munia Burnat, a media personality, the session saw the participation of top speakers, including Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA, HE Noaf Tahlak, Senior Advisor to Secretary General of The UAE Cabinet, HE Salha Ghabish, General Director of the Media and Cultural Office of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA), and Rania Rizq, Vice President & General Counsel AMEA at PepsiCo.The session discussed the role of government communication in supporting the efforts of the various organisations involved in empowering women and enabling them to hone their abilities to become leaders in an ever changing world.Participants shared insights about the type of government communication campaigns and initiatives needed to help women overcome the anticipated challenges in the future. They also discussed the type of government communication partnerships required to achieve these goals.In her opening speech, Director of NAMA, Reem BinKaram said: “I am thankful to the organisers of IGCF, for giving us the opportunity at such an intellectual forum, to discuss issues, pertaining to women advancement and their enhanced participation at national and international levels.NAMA works under the guidance of the wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of NAMA, who considers the advancement of women is crucial to any society’s development and believes the role of women is critical in the process of sustainable growth”.She further said: “In the UAE women have received a lot of support from the wise leadership to elevate their status in different aspects of life. This has become even more evident after the UAE’s wise leadership appointed two honourable women to the federal judiciary, thus reinforcing the leadership’s trust in women’s capabilities and their continued efforts to elevate their status and change society’s perceptions of women’s capacities and talent.”Adding: “On the international arena, NAMA works on the basis that the issue of the women advancement is a global issue, and that supporting women globally, and especially in developing countries, where it is crucial in order to eradicate illiteracy, unemployment and poverty from the world to pave the way for development. At NAMA, we place women at the heart of the global development process to generate effective results while having deeper impacts.”Commending the UAE’s approach to empowering women at the government level, Senior Advisor to Secretary General of The UAE Cabinet HE Noaf Tahlak said: “We in the UAE have a lot of success stories where women have been elevated to senior positions holding high offices of responsibility. These historical decisions would not have been possible without the support of UAE leadership whose unrelenting efforts are focused on improving the role of women in government positions”.Commenting on women empowerment in the Emirati society, General Director of the Media and Cultural Office of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA), Salha Gabish said: “Everything in life requires a supportive culture. This backing begins sometimes at the micro-level from our families. Men are often influenced by their mothers. It is therefore important during those early years, that men learn to treat women respectfully and eventually grow up to see them as equals, who play a pivotal role in society formations and cultural foundations”.Other topic included the role of the family and academic institutions in building a generation who believes that men and women are partners and gender equity is a fundamental human right and one of the key driving forces of development, justice and cooperation adding that promoting a culture of women empowerment in all fields is key to achieving a sustainable future.The session also explored whether private companies are adopting effective women empowerment strategies or not, and if they developed regulatory solutions to drive diversity in leadership positions. Vice President & General Counsel AMEA at PepsiCo. Rania Rizq noted: “Private companies often follow public companies and government efforts while setting their policies and norms. Private entrepreneurs should learn to diversify with the inclusion of more women in their workforce, as statistics reveal this leads to a better turnaround in businesses. The right representation of men and women in the workplace is very important to drive the economy forward and to have positive impacts”.They also underlined the need to include the role of women in achieving the national goals of each country and the UN goals of sustainable development in schools and university curricula.The session also recommended to develop tools or indicators to measure the awareness of society and institutions in regards to breaking gender stereotypes, and ways to to effectively enhance the role of private sector in supporting female entrepreneurs and women-led SMEs. Organised by the International Government Communication Centre, IGCF 2019 is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. The 2-day event held at Sharjah Expo Centre runs under the theme ‘Behavioural Change Towards Human Development’, and has brought together prominent figures, top officials, thought leaders and government communication experts from around the world to discuss and explore international best practices.