Conference News

  • Abdullah bin Zayed to Deliver Keynote Speech at IIFMENA

    Abdullah bin Zayed to Deliver Keynote Speech at IIFMENA

    Sharjah to host conference on October 19-20 in collaboration with UN Women

    His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, will deliver the keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the second edition of the ‘Investing in the Future’ (IIFMENA) Conference in Sharjah.

    Held under the theme ‘Building the Resilience of Women and Girls in the Arab Region’, the conference will take place on October 19-20 under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah and His Wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Big Heart Foundation, UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children and Chairperson of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment.

    Organised by the Big Heart Foundation, a Sharjah-based humanitarian organisation dedicated to helping refugees and people in need worldwide, the second edition of the Investing in the Future conference is being hosted in collaboration with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women. The conference will focus on economic and social‎ development of women and girl-child, with a special highlight on the rights of girl-child.

    His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said: “Our participation in this conference stems from our commitment to fuel women empowerment and our belief in the integral role that women play in economic development and the advancement of society. The progress of any society is dependent upon the degree of cultural and social development of its women and their active participation in building communities. A society that believes in the influential role of women and works to fully engage them in all spheres of life is one that has reached an advanced level of human consciousness. This is something that invariably has positive results on its economic and cultural progress, its stability and its security.”

    His Highness Sheikh Abdullah Al Nahyan praised the efforts of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Mother of the Nation, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, to support and empower women in the UAE. His Highness also paid tribute to His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah and His Wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, for their commitment to advance the role of women in Sharjah and internationally.

    His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s participation in IIFMENA will enrich the conference due to the great personal attention he has paid to the support and empowerment of women. This has enabled women to participate actively in public life, in particular through their presence in the diplomatic corps. Their positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and at UAE embassies and consulates abroad is in alignment the leadership’s vision to support Emirati women in all areas.

    In September 2014, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan participated in the ‘HeForShe’ solidarity campaign, which was organised by UN Women and took place in New York. The initiative aimed to ensure gender equality in the 21st century by aiming to eliminate discrimination, advocate rights for women and build female capacity.

    During the opening ceremony of the ‘Global Women's Forum Dubai’ held in February, His Highness stressed; “the remarkable achievements of Emirati women in various fields are not through chance or luck, rather they are a result of hard work, a clear vision and continuous efforts.” His Highness added that the UAE does not accept any diminution of the role of women, nor discredits the impact of their role, nor minimises its value.

    The Investing in the Future conference, which is being held in Sharjah for the second time, will bring together government officials, representatives of international organisations and non-governmental organisations, advocates of gender equality, academics, media personalities and experts to review the key issues that contribute to full empowerment of women for a safe and stable society.

    The conference will feature a number of key speakers and academic experts in the field of gender politics who will review and discuss the progress achieved by women in the MENA region. The ultimate aim of the event is to create a sustainable approach to development through the formulation of a roadmap towards an integrated package of humanitarian programmes that maintain the capacities of women and girls.
     
  • The Big Heart Foundation and UN Women Collaborate to Strengthen the Role of Women across the World

    The Big Heart Foundation and UN Women Collaborate to Strengthen the Role of Women across the World

    The Big Heart Foundation in collaboration with UN Women, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women will organize the second edition of ‘Investing in the Future’ (IIFMENA) Conference exemplifying the approach embraced by the UAE and its exemplary leadership to enhance cooperation with international organisations to reinforce the status of women and to provide them with support in all domains.

    The Sharjah-based international humanitarian body dedicated to helping the vulnerable and people in need worldwide has reiterated that productive relationships are one of the most important success factors for programmes and projects designed to enhance women's status in society.

    “The existence of a wide range of partners who make outstanding contributions to their respective sectors contributes widely to finding shared commitments and facilitates the task of translating these commitments into clear action plans that accelerate progress in areas of common interest,” Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of ‘Salam Ya Seghar,’ an initiative from The Big Heart Foundation, said, "We are delighted with this strategic partnership with the most important international UN agency dedicated to the empowerment of women, which has a clear mandate in this area. UN Member States, thanks to UN Women's ongoing support, have managed to make promising steps in accelerating the United Nations goals on gender equality and women's empowerment. Through this partnership, we look forward to providing more opportunities that contribute to enhancing women's role and status globally."

    “In a world where conflict, poverty, political turmoil and humanitarian crises are affecting millions, women are of paramount importance to sustain communities that may be fractured and engage as agents of change. Women’s rights are an integral part of societies’ needs; our work towards gender equality and women’s empowerment sustain and support those rights, seeing them as an essential path to peace and development,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director. She noted that UN Women’s support for the IIFMENA conference is part of joint action with The Big Heart Foundation and NAMA Women Advancement Establishment to launch collaborative projects and initiatives for women's empowerment.

    The Big Heart Foundation and UN Women seek to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment, and change the negative indicators and statistics on women in the region and the world. UN statistics show that 37% of women in the Arab States region have experienced some form of violence in their lifetime and nearly six out of every ten women survivors of violence worldwide refrain from asking for support or protection. Those that do speak about their experiences talk only to family or friends. UN statistics also show that women and girls constitute 70% of all known victims of human trafficking globally.

    International agreements such as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 in China) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) are milestones in the history of women’s rights. While there has been significant progress over the last few decades in terms of legislative reforms and women’s education and economic empowerment, participation and leadership, many gaps still remain for women and girls globally.

    UN Women, currently the lead agency on gender equality and the empowerment of women within the UN system, supports inter-governmental bodies like the Commission on the Status of Women in their formulation of global policies, practices and norms. In working to advance women’s rights, UN Women supports Member States to implement global standards through the provision of the required technical and financial support where needed. UN Women works in 89 country offices around the world, liaison offices in Belgium, Denmark, Japan, UAE and Switzerland, to remove barriers to equal opportunities for women and girls and to support efforts to ensure that laws and commitments on gender equality and women’s empowerment are fully implemented.

    The organization works through a network of programmes, offices and partnerships with national civil society organizations and women machineries as well as with international and regional organizations and research institutions.

    Participants interested in registering for the second Investing in the Future conference should submit their applications via www.iifmena.org before mid- October.
     
  • Sharjah to Host the 2nd Edition of IIFMENA ‘Investing in the Future | MENA Conference’

    Sharjah to Host the 2nd Edition of IIFMENA ‘Investing in the Future | MENA Conference’

    Sharjah will host the second edition of ‘Investing in the Future’ (IFFMENA), a conference that aims to overturn negative cultural stereotypes that hinder women's progress in the region. Taking place on October 19-20 under the theme ‘Building the Resilience of Women and Girls in the Arab Region,’ the event focuses on advocacy for Arab women and the Girl child by building their capacity and increasing their opportunities available to them.

    Organised by The Big Heart Foundation, a Sharjah-based international humanitarian body dedicated to helping the vulnerable and people in need worldwide, in collaboration with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), IFFMENA takes place under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah and Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness The Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of the Big Heart Foundation, UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, and Chairperson of the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA).

    The two-day IFFMENA conference will bring together government officials, representatives of international organisations and non-governmental organisations, advocates of gender equality, academics and a number of regional and international media personalities. It aims to be a platform for participants to forge new partnerships, share successful practices and develop innovative methods for gender equality. During the event the participants will discuss the progress achieved by MENA women, outline measures to introduce a sustainable approach to development and formulate an integrated package of programmes designed to maintain the capacities of women and young girls.

    "The world is witnessing challenges that are imposing significant burdens on certain social groups, especially women who shoulder both heavy family and professional responsibilities. This situation calls for all of us to make a greater effort to improving their capabilities and help them to meet their responsibilities, both at home and in the community,” said Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi.

    Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi expressed her hope that the ‘Investing in the Future’ conference would enable Arab women overcome obstacles and contribute significantly to the region's economic and social development. Her Highness stressed that the UAE, under the support and directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and their Highnesses, the Rulers of the Emirates, has managed to build a glorious nation that fully utilises the skills and capacities of women. Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi paid rich tribute to Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak (Mother of the Nation), Chairwoman of the General Women's Union and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, for the great role she plays in empowering Emirati women.

    "The organising of this major global event for the second time is yet another indication of Sharjah’s growing stature on the international arena. Sharjah's approach stems from our wise leadership's belief in the importance of respecting human rights and supporting the capacity building of women and girls in the UAE, the Arab region and the wider world, especially in countries that are suffering from crises and wars. The difficult conditions in these regions have negatively affected the status of women, particularly girls who have lost their right to education and a dignified life," said Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi.

    Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi underlined the significance of Sharjah’s hosting of the IFFMENA conference to mobilise international efforts in investing in Arab women and providing them with the necessary support that will allow them to achieve their ambitions. Her Highness reiterated that the event seeks to highlight the need to incorporate women and girls into decision-making and planning for economic empowerment, stating that it will emphasise the necessity of ensuring access to resources, particularly for female-headed households in countries that impose social and economic restrictions on women.
     
  • Investing in the Future’ conference joins forces with NAMA Women Advancement Establishment

    Investing in the Future’ conference joins forces with NAMA Women Advancement Establishment

    The second edition of ‘Investing in the Future’ (IIFMENA), a conference that aims to invalidate false assumptions and cultural stereotypes obstructing women's development in the MENA region, has announced its first strategic partnership with NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA). IIFMENA’s Organising Committee has announced, owing to the alignment with NAMA’s vision and unrivalled accomplishments in the field of women's empowerment locally, regionally and internationally.

    Scheduled to take place on 19 and 20 October, IIFMENA Conference will be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah and His Wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Big Heart Foundation, UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children and Chairperson of NAMA. It will be organised by The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based international humanitarian body dedicated to aiding vulnerable and needy people worldwide, in collaboration with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

    During the course of the conference, NAMA will endorse the goals of IIFMENA through a special stand by highlighting NAMA’s objectives, major initiatives as well as the recent strides it has made in empowering women in the UAE and beyond. Visitors will be able to have an insight on how NAMA has been a catalyst in enabling strong, talented women to compete globally on economic, professional and social levels.

    Highlighting the strategic importance of this partnership, HE Ameera BinKaram, Vice Chairperson of NAMA and Chairperson of Sharjah Business Women Council, remarked, “Partnering with the IIFMENA conference stems from our belief in the importance of complementary roles, and our desire to enhance cooperation with our partners; TBHF and UN Women. We have been eager to forge this partnership to share experiences and views with representatives of governmental and non-governmental organisations, international bodies, gender-equality advocates, academics, journalists and experts, to reach outcomes that would support the international efforts made to empower women in all fields.”

    “NAMA's participation in IIFMENA is in line with the vision of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi that aims to broaden the scope of the Establishment and participate on active platforms that contribute to creating new opportunities for women and young girls in the region”, she added.

    HE Ameera BinKaram noted that the two-day event will involve extensive discussions centred around formulating practical strategies aligned with NAMA's overall goals of providing economic, professional and social support for women in the UAE – a big step towards attaining gender equality and advancing the status of women in UAE and the rest of the world.

    Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of ‘Salam Ya Seghar,’ an initiative by TBHF said: “We are delighted to be partnering with NAMA – an organisation that has attained several commendable feats in empowering and supporting women economically, professionally and socially."

    NAMA will work with the organisers of the IIFMENA conference to develop its agenda and key themes. This partnership signals NAMA’s most prominent cooperation since its inception, owning to IIFMENA’s importance and magnitude of participation. NAMA will organise a Round table discussion dedicated to pivotal issue of women's health. They will also host a closed session on the sidelines of the conference in order to put forth recommendations about the future of Emirati women.

    The conference strives to highlight the need to bring women and young girls into the folds of the planning and decision making processes of society – activities that will lead to economic emancipation through education, training and employment. The conference also aims to ensure women’s access to community’s resources, especially within female-headed households in countries that impose social and economic restrictions on women.

    IIFMENA-NAMA partnership will help strengthen the leading status attained by NAMA in the UAE and the Arab world, driven by its vision and goals to increase women's presence and broadening their participation across all spheres of life. For NAMA, the conference will serve as a platform to showcase significant achievements of Emirati women, which have stemmed from NAMA’s successful execution of its most prominent initiatives over the past four decades.

    The Investing in the Future conference, which is being held in Sharjah for the second time, will bring together government officials, representatives of international organisations and non-governmental organisations, advocates of gender equality, academics, media personalities and experts to review the key issues that contribute to full empowerment of women for a safe and stable society.

    The conference will feature a number of key speakers and academic experts in the field of gender politics who will review and discuss the progress achieved by women in the MENA region. The ultimate aim of the event is to create a sustainable approach to development through the formulation of a roadmap towards an integrated package of humanitarian programmes that maintain the capacities of women and girls.
     
  • IIFMENA conference announces partnership with Arab League

    IIFMENA conference announces partnership with Arab League

    The Organising Committee of the 2nd edition of ‘Investing in the Future’ (IIFMENA) conference has announced its partnership with the Arab League for the incorporation of Arab women's issues within the region’s developmental plans and policies of the highest priority.

    Hosted in Sharjah on 19 and 20 October 2016, IIFMENA will be organised by The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based international humanitarian body under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and His Wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Big Heart Foundation and Chairperson of the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA); in collaboration with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

    Through this partnership, the Organising Committee of the conference seeks to build on its previous collaborations with the Arab League in its previous edition. This collaboration is aimed at lobbying regional and international support to reinforce Sharjah's efforts to empower Arab women and enhance their capabilities in all domains. It also aims to promote public awareness about Arab women's issues in economic, social, cultural, media-related and legal aspects, as well as support joint cooperation, sharing best practices and innovative approaches to establish gender equality and women’s empowerment.

    HE Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, Secretary General of the Arab League, said: "International bodies and agencies as well as civil society organisations are actively involved in the issue of gender equality due to everyone's belief that no human progress can be achieved without bridging the gender gap and women's engagement in public life."

    "We, at the Arab League, strongly believe in the issue of women's empowerment and the importance of their active participation in development and decision making. Ensuing equal opportunities for women and men key to human and economic development," the Secretary General added.

    He went on to add, "The UAE has effectively executed its vision for women's empowerment with the wisdom of the Emirati leadership opening doors for women to hold the highest constitutional and administrative posts in the country. This can be seen in the election of HE Dr Amal Al Qubaisi as the President and Speaker of the Federal National Council (FNC), making history by becoming the first woman in the Arab world to head a parliamentary institution."

    He observed that the Arab League's partnership with the IIFMENA Conference is a reflection of the unified goals and vision of the two entities, and their appreciation of Sharjah's relentless efforts to advance the status of Arab women, ensuring a better future for them.

    Mariam al Hammadi, Director of Salam Ya Seghar, an initiative from TBHF said; "We launched our partnership with the Arab League under the guidance and leadership of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi, Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation and Chairperson of NAMA. This partnership has its roots in our belief that women's empowerment requires collaborative efforts and through it, we seek to establish an integrated framework involving a package of policies, laws, measures and programmes that will contribute to enhancing Arab women's roles in all domains."

    Enas Makkawi, Director of Women, Family and Children's Department at the Arab League, pointed out, "Through this partnership, we look forward to integrating local efforts with international activities, increasing the Arab–foreign coordination for formulating a unified vision for Arab women's issues at regional and international forums."

    "We believe in the need to strengthen joint Arab efforts in all issues that concern sisterly Arab countries, with the agenda of women's empowerment being given top priority. Recognising and training Arab women as invaluable human capital is necessary to achieve growth and development in the Arab world," she emphasised.

    Makkawi stated that this partnership will see the launch of a series of initiatives and programmes aiming at incorporating Arab women within various women-centric programmes and projects. Diagnosing problems that hinder women's empowerment and engagement in the development process, the partnership will create and strengthen important roles for Arab women in economic, social and political activities; as producers and decision makers, leading to sustainable development.

    IIFMENA and Arab League have a history of fruitful collaborations. The ‘Sharjah Principles’ – aimed at providing protection and a dignified life to refugee children and adolescents worldwide, which were announced while concluding the ‘Investing in the Future: Protecting Refugee Children and Adolescents in the Middle East and North Africa (IIFMENA) Conference’, hosted by Sharjah and UNHCR in mid-October, 2014 were added to the Arab League Childhood Committee’s 13th meeting’s agenda, which was held in January 2016 in Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh.

    The 2nd edition of the two-day IIFMENA conference aims to highlight the need to incorporate women and young girls into decision making, paying attention to their rights to education, skills training and employment, ensuring access to resources, particularly for female-led households suffering restrictions in several countries.

    IIFMENA seeks to recognise women as agents for change; forces that contribute to peace and economic development. It strives to coordinate peacebuilding efforts, and achieve gender equality as an integral part of all developmental plans, policies and programmes aiming at empowering women and young girls. The conference also aims to support female refugees and displaced women, following up on the actions that aim to meet their needs, bringing them justice ensuring their rights.

    Participants interested in registering for the second Investing in the Future conference should submit their applications via www.iifmena.org before mid- October.
     
  • Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai Announced as Key Speakers at IIFMENA Conference

    Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai Announced as Key Speakers at IIFMENA Conference

    Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, will be a key speaker at the second ‘Investing in the Future’ (IIFMENA) conference in Sharjah.

    The second IIFMENA conference titled: ‘Building the Resilience of Women and Girls in the Arab Region’ is being organised by The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based international humanitarian body dedicated to aiding vulnerable people worldwide. The event, being conducted in collaboration with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), is being held in Sharjah on October 19 and 20.

    Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah; and his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of TBHF and Chairperson of the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA), the IIFMENA conference will provide a platform for engaging discussions highlighting the need to incorporate women and young girls into decision-making through economic empowerment, paying attention to their specific needs in education, skills-training and employment. The two-day forum will bring together government officials, representatives of international and non-governmental organisations, advocates of gender equality, academics and a number of experts and media personalities from across the world. Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of Salam Ya Seghar – a TBHF initiative – said; “We are eager advocates of our girls' right to education. The UAE, since its inception, has always stood strongly for this. Our efforts are in line with our leadership's firm belief in knowledge contributing to building and strengthening women's capacities, allowing them to effectively participate in community development. Educated women are better able to serve their families and nations and can work to a higher capacity to ensure stability and progress in their respective countries."

    Underlining the significance of and the symbolism behind bringing Malala Yousafzai as a key speaker at the event, Al Hammadi said; “Malala is a role model for girls and women across the world. Her fight against the oppressive forces creating roadblocks for female education and empowerment is one of the bravest the world has ever seen. Her determination and insistence in the process to the extent of being shot for her cause not only leaves an imprint on her nation and society, but on ours and on societies across the world.”

    Malala Yousafzai defied the Taliban and demanded that girls be allowed to receive an education in her native Swat Valley in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Northwest Pakistan. She refused the ban issued by the Taliban Movement in 2009 and continued to go to school along with a few girls who decided to hold on to their right to education. Her streak of defiance came out strongly in an Urdu blog she wrote for the BBC, reaffirming that her thirst for education was stronger than her fear of the Taliban. The blog marked a turning point in Yousafzai's advocacy, which grew into an international movement. Commenting on her participation in the conference, Malala Yousafzai, expressed her delight for being given the opportunity to talk about the challenges that face girls' access to education in her country. She highlighted the importance of empowering girls to fulfill their wishes and effectively contribute to developing their communities and getting involved in the development process. She stressed that the impressive presence of international attendees at the conference will allow her to make the voices of her same-aged counterparts heard in order to ensure a better future for them.

    Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi were named joint winners of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for their outstanding contributions and achievements in humanitarian work.

    Participating at the conference also is Ziauddin Yousafzai, recognised for being a Pakistani diplomat, father of Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, the current UN Special Advisor on Global Education and the educational attache of Pakistan in its consulate in Birmingham, UK. Yousafzai will be one of the key speakers during a panel discussion titled “Combating Violent Extremism”, which is set as the first roundtable panel discussion during the first day of the conference.

    The second edition of the IIFMENA conference will strive to further cement the grounds that are being laid for women to be recognised as equals and as agents of change for peace and economic prosperity. The conference aims to support all women, including refugees and displaced persons, by working to meet their needs and to ensure full rights and justice for them.

    All institutions, organisations and individuals interested in registering for the second ‘Investing in the Future’ conference should submit their applications via http://iifmena.org before mid-October.
     
  • Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi will be a Keynote Speaker at IIFMENA

    Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi will be a Keynote Speaker at IIFMENA

    Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi will be the keynote speaker at the second edition of ‘Investing in the Future’ (IIFMENA) conference in Sharjah. Mr. Satyarthi will be speaking at the conference's opening ceremony on 19 October (Wednesday). The reknown child right activist has been at the forefront of the global movement to end child slavery and exploitative child labour since three decades.

    The second IIFMENA conference titled: ‘Building the Resilience of Women and Girls in the Arab Region’ is being organised by The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based international humanitarian body dedicated to aiding vulnerable people worldwide. The event, being conducted in collaboration with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), is being held in Sharjah on October 19 and 20.

    Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah; and his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of TBHF and Chairperson of the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA), the IIFMENA conference will provide a platform for engaging discussions highlighting the need to incorporate women and young girls into decision-making through economic empowerment, paying attention to their specific needs in education, skills-training and employment.

    Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of Salam Ya Seghar – a TBHF initiative – said: “We are glad to have Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi among our distinguish speakers list. Mr. Satyarthi who is a veteran in the field of rights advocacy and education has personally rescued thousands of children from the clutches of child labour and slavery inspite several attacks on him. He has not only helped them re-establish trust in society but enabled them to get promising futures for themselves. Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi has been a tireless advocate of Children’s right for over three decades. The grassroots movement founded by him, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement), have liberated more than 85,000 children from exploitation and developed a successful model for their education and rehabilitation. As a worldwide campaigner, he has been the architect of the single largest civil society network for the most exploited children, the Global March Against Child Labour, which is a worldwide coalition of NGOs, Teachers' Union and Trade Unions active in 140 countries. Satyarthi’s efforts led to the adoption of ILO Convention 182 on worst forms of child labour in 1999. He was also the Founding President of the Global Campaign for Education, a civil society movement working to end the global education crisis, and GoodWeave International, which was one of the first consumer awareness programmes and the earliest examples of modern corporate social responsibility. Satyarthi’s efforts to end child slavery, trafficking, forced labour and violence received international support when in September 2015, he succeeded in getting child protection and welfare-related clauses included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. To achieve his vision of a world free of violence against children – a child friendly world where all children are free, safe, healthy and enrolled in a quality school, he has founded the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to help create, implement, and advocate child-friendly policies that ensure the holistic development and empowerment of children worldwide.

    Kailash Satyarthi underlined that his participation at the IIFMENA Conference will help him highlight the issue of Trafficking and child slavery particularly focusing the young girls. He would also highlight on areas that ensure protection and education for them as he rightfully thinks that children who are not able to attend school will not acquire the necessary knowledge and skills needed by their communities to achieve development and progress. The two-day forum will bring together government officials, representatives of international and non-governmental organisations, advocates of gender equality, academics and a number of experts and media personalities from across the world.

    The second edition of the IIFMENA conference will strive to further cement the grounds that are being laid for women to be recognised as equals and as agents of change for peace and economic prosperity. The conference aims to support all women, including refugees and displaced persons, by working to meet their needs and to ensure full rights and justice for them.

    All institutions, organisations and individuals interested in registering for the second ‘Investing in the Future’ conference should submit their applications via http://iifmena.org before mid-October.

     
  • IIFMENA to Highlight Women as Key Contributors to World Peace

    IIFMENA to Highlight Women as Key Contributors to World Peace

    The second edition of ‘Investing in the Future’ (IIFMENA) conference will feature four high level plenary sessions and eight roundtable discussions focusing on women's rights, education and employment, among other important topics on October 19 and 20, under the theme “Building the Resilience of Women and Girls in the Arab Region”.

    As part of Sharjah's relentless efforts to support and empower women in the Arab region and worldwide, the two-day conference is being organised by The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based international humanitarian body under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah and Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness The Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of the Big Heart Foundation, UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, and Chairperson of the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA); in collaboration with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

    On October 19, two high level panels will be held, the first of which is titled: “The Resilience of Women and Girls – Education and Employment”. This panel is expected to bring together experts who will highlight the importance of achieving gender equality in education, as well as the pivotal role education plays in girls' access to their basic rights and in capitalising on their full potential, thus becoming powerful drivers of socioeconomic change on an equal footing with their male counterparts. The second panel, “Nurturing Minds: Investing in Women – Gender and Budget-responsive Policies”, will seek to highlight the importance of bridging the gender gap and its role in promoting sustainable growth, thus ending poverty. The speakers will lay emphasis on the importance of equal participation for women, increasing their capacity to get better jobs, and gaining access to resources and infrastructural services.

    Mariam al Hammadi, Director of ‘Salam Ya Seghar,’ an initiative by TBHF: “Guided by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and with the directives of His Wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of TBHF, we have handpicked selected topics that are vital to women's empowerment. Experts and specialists from around the world will discuss and debate these issues, to come up with a number of recommendations, which will contribute to advancing global efforts towards the empowerment of women.”

    “Gender equality in education is a fundamental human right. Educated women are far more productive economically, and thus contribute greatly to development. The weakest link lies in primary and secondary education for girls. Therefore, we must work together to revitalise and improve school curricula both qualitatively and quantitatively, in order to achieve gender equality, thereby realising women's economic and social empowerment in all domains,” she added.

    Citing research findings and studies focusing on how poverty further weakens women’s social and economic participation, Al Hammadi remarked: “Based on this equation, we seek to emphasise that women's education and capacity building, as well as developing their professional skills will lead to reducing poverty and expanding their active participation in various fields.”

    On the second day of IIFMENA, two plenary debates will be held: the first is dedicated to “Women and their Role in Peace-building”, and the other will highlight “Strategic Partnerships for Economic Development”. The first debate will highlight the historical role of women in peacebuilding, where researches and surveys will demonstrate how women's participation in peacebuilding operations have strengthened peacekeeping, peacemaking and protection efforts for several years.

    The second debate will address the issue of strategic partnerships for economic development, with the aim of intensifying international efforts, focusing on the importance of coordination and planning required for development, peacebuilding as well as gender equality. The debate will discuss the significance of making strategic partnerships a part of inclusive plans, policies and programmes aimed at empowering women and promoting their roles in the world.

    Speaking about why the topic of women’s engagement in peace and security decision-making features in the selected topics, Mariam Al Hammadi explained: “Choosing the issue of women and their role in peacebuilding comes in line with the firm vision of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, who strongly believes in the pivotal role women have played towards securing global security and peacebuilding for centuries.” The UN Security Council’s endorsement of Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security since October 2000 is a testimony to how women’s rights and their role in global security go hand in hand. Many researches reveal that countries where women enjoy equal rights and opportunities are more secure and prosperous. Alongside the four main panels, the conference will also organise eight roundtable discussions. These will cover wide-ranging topics and issues surrounding the questions shaping the future of women in the MENA region. Four of the roundtable discussions will be held on the first day of the event, these will include: ‘Combating Violent Extremism’, ‘Human Trafficking’, ‘Innovation in Entrepreneurship’, and ‘Women's Rights in Islam’. On the second day, the roundtable discussions will feature sessions on: ‘Youth’s Role in Capacity Building’, ‘Girls’ Education’, ‘Men and Boys as Actors of Change’, and ‘Women's Health’.

    The Investing in the Future conference, which is being held in Sharjah for the second time, will bring together government officials, representatives of international organisations and non-governmental organisations, advocates of gender equality, academics, media personalities and experts to review the key issues that contribute to full empowerment of women for a safe and stable society.

    The conference will feature a number of key speakers and academic experts in the field of gender politics who will review and discuss the progress achieved by women in the MENA region. The ultimate aim of the event is to create a sustainable approach to development through the formulation of a roadmap towards an integrated package of humanitarian programmes that maintain the capacities of women and girls.

     
  • Renowned Women Leaders to Enrich ‘Investing in the Future’ Conference

    Renowned Women Leaders to Enrich ‘Investing in the Future’ Conference

    The second edition of the ‘Investing in the Future’ conference (IIFMENA) is to host an elite group of international women leaders who will enrich the discussion panels by sharing their inspiring experiences and success stories in the field of women’s advocacy and empowerment.

    Among the luminaries participating at the event, which takes place in Sharjah on October 19-20, are H.E. Rula Bibi Gul Ghani, First Lady of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; H.E. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance, Priti Patel, UK Secretary of State for International Development; Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistani stateswoman, activist and former Foreign Minister of Pakistan; and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Pakistani journalist, filmmaker, activist and recipient of two Academy Awards for ‘Best Documentary - Short Subject.’

    Commenting on the inclusion of the illustrious invitees at the conference, the Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of ‘Salam Ya Seghar,’ an initiative from The Big Heart Foundation, said; “There are innumerable success stories that reveal how female leaders play a key role in the process of cultural transformation and sustainable development. These examples represent the greater number of unrecognised efforts of women across the globe to ensure that their female peers are having equal opportunities in education, employment and decision-making.”

    H.E. Rula Ghani is the First Lady of Afghanistan and the wife of the President of Afghanistan,Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai. In what was an unprecedented move for an Afghan politician,Ghani subsequently assigned an office at the presidential palace to her, where she now plays a ground-breaking role as the First Lady of Afghanistan, challenging Afghan traditions.

    USA’s Time Magazine named H.E. Rula Ghani as one of the top 100 influential people worldwide in 2015, in recognition of her efforts in changing the perception of women in her country.

    H.E. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi became the first Emirati woman in UAE history to assume a cabinet position when she was appointed as Minister of Foreign Trade in 2004. Following a further two ministerial appointments, she was invited to become Minister of State for Tolerance in the UAE, a role created earlier this year. In addition to her ministerial portfolio responsibilities, Sheikha Lubna holds several distinguished positions, including President of Zayed University. She serves on a number of local and international public and private organisation’s governing boards; including The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, The Emirates Foundation for Youth Development and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at The National University of Singapore.

    Her Excellency was featured in Forbes Magazine as 42nd on their list of the 'World’s Most Powerful 100 Women for 2015' and was also included in the Wall Street Journal’s ‘The Most Important 50 International Women to Watch.’ In addition, Sheikha Lubna was the first Emirati to receive The Clinton Global Citizen Award from the Clinton Global Initiative.

    Priti Patel is UK Secretary of State for International Development at the Department of International Development. Born in London to a Ugandan Indian migrant family, Patel joined the Conservative Party after switching allegiance from the Referendum Party. She was elected as the Conservative Member of Parliament for the seat of Witham at the 2010 general election.

    Pakistani political activist Hina Rabbani Khar, former Foreign Minister of Pakistan 2011-2013, is the first woman and the youngest person to have held the position. She entered the world of politics when she joined the Pakistan Peoples’ Party and in July 2001 was appointed by Yousaf Raza Gillani, former Prime Minister, as Foreign Minister. She became a member of the National Assembly in 2002 and in 2009 took on the role of Minister of State for Finance and Economic Affairs, becoming the first Pakistani woman to present the national budget.

    Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Pakistani journalist, and director was awarded the ‘Hilal-e-Imtiaz,’ the second highest civilian honour given by the government of Pakistan. She is the first woman in Pakistan to receive two Academy Awards. In 2012 she won in the ‘Best Documentary – Short Subject’ category for her film ‘Saving Face,’ which dealt with acid attacks on women in Pakistan. This year she won again in the same category for her film ‘‘A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness,’ which discussed honour killings in her country.

    The second edition of Investing in the Future is being organised by The Big Heart Foundation - a Sharjah-based humanitarian organisation dedicated to helping refugees and people in need worldwide - and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women. This year’s conference is being held under the theme ‘Building the Resilience of Women and Girls in the Arab Region.’

    Investing in the Future seeks to highlight the importance of women’s inclusion in the economic development process. It focuses on providing them with support and meeting their needs in education, training, employment, and access to resources; especially for female-headed families in light of the social and economic restrictions imposed on women in many countries across the world.

     
  • Jawaher Al Qasimi Launches ‘Ameera Fund’ to Support Cancer Patients

    Jawaher Al Qasimi Launches ‘Ameera Fund’ to Support Cancer Patients

    Initiative aims to memorialise the great humanitarian efforts made by the late Ameera BinKaram

    Charitable concern will provide treatment for cancer patients worldwide

    Fund open to all those who wish to make a donation to contribute to its objectives

    Jawaher Al Qasimi: Ameera BinKaram is a model of giving, sacrifice and dedication for Emirati women, the nation and the entire world


    For immediate release,
    Sharjah, 29 October 2016

    Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Founder and Royal Patron of the Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP), International Ambassador of the World Cancer Declaration for Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer for UICC and Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), has launched the ‘Ameera Fund’ to support cancer patients worldwide. The gesture has been made as a tribute to the late Ameera BinKaram.

    Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi's initiative comes in recognition of Ameera BinKaram's rich contribution to humanitarian work. The move aims to memorialise her tireless compassionate efforts and to urge others to follow her voluntary and charitable approach in supporting cancer patients in the UAE and beyond.

    Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher announced the donation of the first revenue to the ‘Ameera Fund’ and called on all individuals and organisations inside and outside the UAE who are interested in contributing to humanitarian causes to support the fund through donations, which will help it achieve its goals of providing treatment for cancer patients in need. Those who want to contribute to the cause can make donations through the main branch of “Sharjah Islamic Bank”, account number 0034-430430-015, IBAN AE740410000034430430015, or directly reach TBHF on +97165941283.

    Her Highness underlined that Ameera BinKaram had always believed in the need to help cancer patients, especially those who cannot afford the cost treatment, which can be considerable. She worked hard to help these patients through providing treatment expenses on both the local and global level. BinKaram encouraged activate community engagement in covering the costs for cancer sufferers from her belief that a community shoulders a moral and humanitarian responsibility towards such patients wherever they are in the world.

    "In recognition of Ameera BinKaram’s incredible contribution to humanitarian work, we decided to continue in achieving the noble goals that she strived for with such commitment and dedication throughout her lifetime," HH Sheikha Jawaher said in a highly emotional statement. The Ameera Fund will operate under the umbrella and supervision of TBHF - a Sharjah-based global humanitarian charity dedicated to helping refugees and people in need worldwide. Projects and initiatives approved by the fund will be implemented by FoCP, while the fund will generate income through donation campaigns and contributions from across the world.

    Paying rich tribute to Ameera BinKaram, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher said: "Ameera BinKaram was a humanitarian icon and a symbol of community work in Sharjah and the UAE. She was a model of giving, sacrifice and dedication for Emirati women, the nation and the entire world. She worked tirelessly to alleviate suffering and to promote a supportive environment for women's empowerment. Her departure from this world has left a void in the lives of everyone who knew her and who had benefitted from the amazing accomplishments she attained throughout her life."

    Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher underlined that the launch of the Ameera Fund comes in recognition of Ameera BinKaram’s immense efforts to support cancer patients in the UAE and beyond through FoCP and the Pink Caravan. Both initiatives provide free treatment for patients, raise awareness about cancer and provide numerous initiatives and charity projects in Arab and foreign countries, all of which have a significant impact for beneficiaries.

    Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher added: “The Ameera Fund will commemorate Ameera BinKaram’s indefatigable spirit in order carry on along the path she forged for cancer patients, as well as their relatives, who are in need. The support provided by the fund will ensure the continuance of the initiatives that BinKaram contributed to and to which she remained faithful to right up to the last day of her life."

    Sheikha Jawaher called on all individuals and organisations to support the Ameera Fund through donations and to help it achieve its humanitarian objectives of providing treatment and healthcare for cancer patients, raising awareness about the disease and encouraging all community members to undergo health examinations. TBHF, in collaboration with FoCP, implements charity projects dedicated to providing treatment for cancer patients in need around the world.

    Ameera BinKaram, who passed along with her mother and sister in a fire in their home in Sharjah last week, was actively involved in humanitarian work through a series of initiatives and projects that focused on promoting awareness about cancer, fighting the disease and supporting those who suffer from it. She was also active in the empowerment of women and encouraging them to effectively participate in economic development, as well as promoting entrepreneurship, fighting non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and advocating social responsibility.

    In the last years of her life, Ameera BinKaram dedicated most of her time and effort to combating cancer through FoCP, which was founded in 1999. Since its inception she led and supervised numerous initiatives and campaigns launched by FoCP to raise awareness about cancer and provide necessary treatment for patients, in addition to providing psychological and moral support for cancer patients and their families. Her work in these endeavours has contributed to improving the lives of thousands of citizens and residents in the UAE and beyond.

    Ameera BinKaram worked dedicatedly to implement the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah and the directives of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi. She contributed to launching the Pink Caravan initiative in 2011 and was appointed the Chairperson of the Higher Steering Committee of the Pink Caravan Ride, which travels across the UAE dispensing health advice and free health checks. BinKaram worked devotedly over five years to manage the initiative and achieve its goals of dispelling misconceptions related to breast cancer and promoting awareness about the disease. Her efforts and dedication enabled the Pink Caravan to offer early detection examinations for more than 41,000 women and men during this short period of time.

    Ameera BinKaram was able to witness the fruits of this initiative this year, with the inauguration of the mobile ‘CareVan’ clinic by His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Patron of the Pink Caravan. CareVan, which integrates the newest mammography technology for best accuracy of diagnosis, is supplied with the latest equipment and medical devices needed for conducting early breast cancer screening and other associated examinations.

    BinKaram also attended the opening of the Sharjah Breast Care Centre - the first of its kind in the region and an affiliate of University Hospital Sharjah in partnership with Pink Caravan and Gustav Roussy Hospital. In recognition of her efforts and contributions to the fight against cancer in the UAE, she was honoured with the Excellence Award from Hospitality Management Holdings.

    Ameera BinKaram also led the successful hosting of the first edition of the Global Forum on Non-Communicable Diseases under the theme ‘NCD Advocacy and Accountability in the Post-2015 Era’ in November 2015. The NCD Forum brought together 206 delegates from 173 advocacy organisations and 43 national and regional NCD Alliances. The forum, held jointly by the NCD Alliance and FoCP succeeded in developing an effective road map to combat these diseases in the Middle East and North Africa. Throughout her career, Ameera BinKaram held several leadership positions and high-profile posts, including Vice Chairperson of Nama Women Establishment and Chairperson of the Sharjah Business Women Council, with her roles seeing her work closely with Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah. She also chaired the UAE Business Women, a division of the CEO Clubs Network - the world largest and oldest non-profit business networking club. BinKaram was a member of the Olave Baden-Powell Society and the Word Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. She was also chosen by the American Embassy in the UAE to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program. Ameera BinKaram was selected among honorary members of the Sharjah Tatweer Forum and was also elected to the UAE Genetic Diseases Association. She was a member of several committees, including the Higher Committee of the Arab Woman Award.

    In recognition of her significant contributions to supporting and empowering women professionally and economically, as well as her active involvement in charitable and humanitarian work, BinKaram was honoured by the International Alliance for Women in Washington, which bestowed her with the International Excellence Award in November 2015. She was also the first Arab woman to participate in German Bucerius Summer School. In 2012, BinKaram was honoured with the UAE's ‘Humanitarian of the Year’ Award by the Arab Woman Award in Dubai.

    The Ameera Fund is the second global cancer fund to be launched by Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi, who established the International Childhood Cancer Fund (ChiCa), in collaboration with the UICC. Launched in 2015, the ChiCa Fund aims to accelerate saving the lives of children who would otherwise die of cancer each year. The fund collects donations for awareness campaigns, with Sheikha Jawaher donating $1 million through TBHF as its first revenue installment. The sum will play a significant role in protecting children around the world from cancer.

     
  • UN Women Adopts ‘SharjahDeclaration’for the Rights and Empowerment of Women and Girls

    UN Women Adopts ‘SharjahDeclaration’for the Rights and Empowerment of Women and Girls

    Breakthrough declaration approved with the blessings of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and his wife, Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi

    Jawaher Al Qasimi: Women's involvement is a guarantee for sustainable development and prosperity

    Lubna Al Qasimi: Government laws provide women with effective and official support.

    Ahmed AbouEl Gheit: Gender equality is the only way to realise comprehensive economic development

    For immediate release Sharjah, October 21, 2016

    The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) has announced the adoption of the‘SharjahDeclaration’that aim to strengthen the resilience of women and girls in the Arab region, on the closing session of the Investing in the Future Conference yesterday (Thursday).

    The ‘Sharjah Declaration’ was announced with the blessings of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Her HighnessSheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), Chairperson of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment.

    Thesecond Investing in the FutureConference, which took place on October 19 and 20 at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre, and was held under the theme ‘Building the Resilience of Women and Girls in the Arab Region’, was organised by TBHF and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

    The closing ceremony saw the attendance ofHer Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA); HE SheikhaLubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance; Sheikh Salem Bin Abdul Rahman Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Ruler's Office; international representatives from government and non-government organisations, decision-makers, academics, and field experts.

    Dr.Mlambo-Ngcuka has commended the efforts of conference partners and the hospitality of Sharjah. She stressed the importance of continuing to build partnerships and alliances among governments, international organizations, civil society organizations and youth groups to change negative gender stereotypes, and to protect women from the threats of armed conflicts, humanitarian crises and the waves of extremism ripping through the region. Focus should also be given to women’s economic empowerment as a mean to fight poverty, and to engaging men and boys in the struggle for gender equality in the region.

    “These topics are at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals and of achieving a true Planet 50-50 by 2030,” said Dr.Mlambo-Ngcuka at her closing remarks. “The energy of the men and women on these past two days has been significant and palpable,” she added.

    Mohammad Naciri, UN Women Regional Director for Arab States, delivered the Sharjah Declaration for the Rights and Empowerment of Women and Girls, which reads as follows:

    Representatives of states, governments, international organisations and civil society institutions met in October 2016 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, to discuss the resilience of women and girls in the Arab region. The principles established at the meeting took the form of the following:

    Participants recognise that it is not possible to build sustainable peace based on marginalisation, exclusion and inequality, noting that women have a catalytic role as agents of change and as leaders in reconciliation, peace-building and countering violent extremism.

    They recognised the need to engage men and boys to challenge the structures, beliefs, practices and institutions that sustain men’s privileges, as well as the need to address inequalities between women/girls and men/boys,

    Participants also recognise the positive potential of young people, both males and females, in promoting peace and security, emphasising that the adoption of the sustainable development agenda, with its dedicated goal on gender equality and the mainstreaming of gender equality across all 17 goals, demonstrates that development, human rights, peace and security are interdependent. They reiterated that civil society, including women´s organisations, plays a vital role in the sustainable and peaceful development of a community and country and should be engaged in the decision-making process at all levels.

    Participating experts called for the mainstreaming of gender in all plans, policies and programmes, which are aimed at empowering, protecting and supporting refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs); the pursuing of practical targeted actions that address the needs and rights of women and girls and the engagement of men and boys as partners for gender equality. The experts acknowledged the findings of the Global Study on Women, Peace and Security, which reported that the chance of a peace agreement lasting 15 years increases by as much as 35 per cent when women participate in the negotiations,

    Recalling the commitments made by Arab Member States in the Cairo Declaration for Arab Women and the Strategic Plan for Women Empowerment, as well as the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which call for gender equality in all areas of public and private life and a commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, the participants called on member states to create national mechanisms and develop national action plans to guarantee implementation of the Regional Strategy and Executive Action Plan on ‘Protection of Arab Women: Peace and Security’. They call upon member states to intensify cooperation with religious institutions to ensure women's rights within Islam, as well as women’s rights in other religions practiced in the MENA region; to protect women and girls from all forms of violence, particularly during wars and conflicts; to promote religious discourse which creates awareness; to ensure that women's rights are protected in the family and society and to actively work toward a culture of peace and security,

    The participants noted that extreme poverty and hunger could be eliminated by 2030 if between 9.5 and 13 per cent of global military spending was channelled to improve agriculture and rural infrastructure in impoverished communities,

    They indicated that women and girls need to be included and specifically targeted in planning for economic recovery and resilience, with special consideration given to their needs regarding education, livelihoods, skills development, employment and access to resources, particularly for female-headed households and considering socio-economic restrictions placed on women and girls,

    Participants emphasised the important role of women as agents of economic stabilisation and growth and that economic outcomes are more likely to be inclusive when women are involved. They reaffirmed that ‘no action is not an option’ and that it takes governments, businesses, development partners, men, women and all relevant participants to work in a coordinated and sustained partnership framework to realise inclusive and equitable peace and stability,

    While stressing that data show a persistent underinvestment in gender equality and women’s empowerment in humanitarian assistance,the participants called on all donors to invest in women´s empowerment and leadership, particularly in relation to development and emergencies.

    Jawaher Al Qasimi: Women's involvement is a guarantee for sustainable development and prosperity

    Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi lauded efforts by representatives from government and non-government organisations, as well as representatives from UN organisations and civil bodies who contributed to drafting theSharjah Declaration, which aims to strengthen the resilience of women and girls in the Arab region. Her Highness expressed her deepest thanks to all those who contributed to enriching the conference and its sessions with their ideas and opinions, which demonstrated their moral commitment and humanitarian interest in empowering women in the region and the world.

    Sheikha Jawaher said: "Most principles stipulated in the Sharjah Declaration focus on the involvement of women and girls in promotion of peace and achieving stability, which is an extremely important issue amid the difficult conditions experienced by many countries in the region. This is because the lack of security threatens women's mental and physical integrity and hinders them from becoming an active agent designing the future to ensure sustainable development and prosperity."

    Sheikha Jawaher underlined the need to empower women economically and facilitate the process of granting them the necessary finance to launch projects, the right to participate in government tenders and procurement, and provide the skills to maximise their contributions in various economic activities.

    Sheikha Jawaher called for the collectionand analysis of data and statistical indicators on women's participation in economic development in the Middle East, to promote women's roles in business sectors.

    Her Highnessacknowledged that the protection of women's rights, building capacity, developing skills and offering equal job opportunities, must be at the forefront of empowerment programmes implemented by government bodies and civil society organisations to encourage women and girls to engage in public life.

    Lubna Al Qasimi:Government laws provide effective and official support for women

    In her keynote address during the ceremony, HE SheikhaLubna Al Qasimi, said:"The natural equality between women and men is obvious. Both are human beings in the end, and they need to support each other. Therefore, they must be equal in life opportunities and aspirations for a better future. We must concentrate our effort to promote gender integration to maintain human stability and cope with the inevitable changes and developments that come with time."

    HE SheikhaLubna, Minister of State for Tolerance, said that the UAE has gone far in empowering women, quoting His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE: "We have moved beyond the phase of empowering women. Indeed, we are empowering society through women.This is reflected in the constant and consistent achievements made by the nation’s women. The UAE ranks first globally for treating women with respect, according to the World Economic Forum Report 2013, and also leads the Middle East and North Africa in terms of gender equality. A perfect illustration of the empowerment and social confidence in women and girls of all ages is the success of a number of Emirati girls who recently managed to conquer Everest Summit," she said. SheikhaLubna underlined that the UAE's focus on supporting women is not limited to the local arena, as the UAE is also keen, under the guidance of its wise leadership, to help other countries promote gender equality. The UAE is actively involved in undertaking several mandates relating to women’s rights through the United Nations and other international organisations. This is reflected in the steady increase in Emirati women's contributions to various positions of responsibility in the business sector and charitable societies as well as in various professions and posts across the country.

    "Emirati women enjoy more than mere encouragement, because government legislation and laws provide a broad scope of officialand tangible support for women. This is well illustrated by the Cabinet rulingfour years ago that all boards of directors of companies and government entities must include women, making the UAE only the second country after Norway that makes the representation of women on boards mandatory."

    SheikhaLubna added: "This ambitious approach is enhanced by the eagerness of Emirati women to gain more knowledge, be more creative and further develop their skills. We see this through the growing interest in using the latest communication and learning technology, and the enthusiasm of many younger women and girls totake on scientific research and innovation."

    SheikhaLubna referred to a UN study that shows the UAE among top countries in women's empowerment, with Emirati women representing 60% of the total national workforce. She emphasised that the nation should support women's entrepreneurship at government level in its quest to consolidate the culture and attractiveness of entrepreneurship among female Emiratis.

    HEstressed that the UAE encourages women's participation in economic development, and major efforts have been made to inspire women entrepreneurs. SheikhaLubna added that there are further steps needed to address certain factors which may alienate women from running or developing their own enterprises.

    She called forestablishing platforms for women to communicate and exchange ideas, a move that will not only stimulate creativity but will also give women a sense of support and self-confidence, enabling them to better prepare and succeed. Women can achieve great success in networking and cooperation with other women owners of small enterprises and help them establish other projects within their community.

    In conclusion, SheikhaLubna Al Qasimi said: "Supporting women entrepreneurs is a pillar to spur economic growth, since women's entrepreneurial potential and capabilities have not yet been fully utilised. Women entrepreneurs can play a prominent role in leading the economy and in doing so,create jobs for themselves and others. This is why we should increase women's abilities to participate in the workforce and strengthen their participation in entrepreneurial activities." She went on to say that creative initiatives and programmes should be launched to support women's entrepreneurship. “Efforts must also be made to improve these targeted efforts through collecting more consistent data for the study of women's employment and entrepreneurship that can be run from home."

    Ahmed Abou ElGheit:Gender equality is the only way to achieve comprehensive economic development

    Ambassador EnsaMakkawi, Manager of the Directorate of Women, Family and Childhood at the Arab League, said in a speech delivered on behalf of Ahmed Abou ElGheit, Secretary General of the Arab League, "Wehighly appreciate the unwavering efforts made by Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi through the Big Heart Foundation to support women's issues on national and regional levels. This has culminated in launching the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment to grant women their full political, economic and social rights as key partners in community development. We also appreciate the valuable efforts undertaken by UN Women on a regional level to protect women and girls and advance their positions."

    Makkawi added:"Arab women's issues have always been a priority on the agenda of Arab League meetings. The Arab League has always sought to promote the role of women and girls in Arab societies, stemming from its belief that women are the backbone of progress, security and peace in societies. Gender equality, equal opportunities for women and girls to have access to education, healthcare, decent employment, political participation and economic empowerment is the only way to achieve comprehensive economic development.” The Arab League plans to hold an International Conference in January 2017 in conjunction with UN Women, Al Azhar Al Sharif and the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-Generalon Sexual Violence in Conflict,to address all forms of violence and extremism in the region.

    The event will involve religious institutions and regional and international organisations concerned with human rights, in activating of the memorandum of understanding signed in March 2015, by the Arab League with the Office UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

    She added: "The current situation in the Arab region requires developing new methods to deal with issues of peace and security in the region, and to strengthen mechanisms to stop violence through mediation, peacekeeping control and much more." She highlighted the important role of teaching and educating new generations and promoting the concept of human rights, without overlooking the essential and effective role that women can play in building sustainable peace in Arab communities.

    Makkawi concluded by saying: " We have to work together to address all threats and risks facing the security and safety of women and girls, and develop the means to combat terrorism in all its forms and bring peace and security in the region. We need to promote the values of true Islam and fight the culture of extremism that sparks such hatred. We must advance our Arab communities and maintain their cohesion and stability, with an emphasis on the importance of women's participation in peacebuilding, and the promotion of dialogue as a method to resolve conflicts. Equality and development cannot be achieved if there is no security and stability."