Reem BinKaram and other officials during the forum.
Business Bureau, Gulf Today
SHARJAH/ISLAMABAD: After two successful networking events engaging hundreds of business women and leaders in Brazil and Egypt, NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA)’s ‘Sharjah Welcomes You’ platform was extended to more than 60 Pakistani businessmen and women, diplomats, and experts in women’s development recently.
The forum offered business professionals and decision makers first-hand insight into the primary functions of NAMA and its three affiliates, Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC); the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council (Irthi); and NAMA’s education and capacity-building arm – Badiri Education & Development Academy.
Speakers from NAMA and its affiliates also highlighted the comprehensive approach adopted by Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of NAMA, for the advancement of women in various sectors.
The event was attended by Abdul Aziz Al Neyadi, Charge d’ Affairs of UAE Embassy in Islamabad, Zartaj Gul, Minister of State for Climate Change; Sitara Ayaz, Member of the Senate of Pakistan; Ms. Shandana Gulzar Khan, The Parliamentary Secretary for Commerce in Pakistan; Erum Mazher Alvie, Senior Advisor in the Executive Office of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi; Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA; Sheikha Hind bint Majed Al Qassimi, Chairperson of SBWC; Rizwan Beyg, Pakistani fashion designer; and a host of Pakistani media professionals.
Since the early 1970s, Emirati and Pakistani relations have seen continuous and expressive growth. A new phase of collaboration in recent times has been heralded by recent bilateral visits most recently by His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan. In 2017, the Sharjah Ruler received Muazzam Ahmed Khan, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to discuss areas of cooperation and exchange.
“NAMA is here today to build on these ties with women in the lead,” remarked BinKaram during a keynote speech, highlighting that this networking event has really helped NAMA and its affiliates strengthen their efforts to enable like-minded organisations and individuals worldwide come together to further their mandate of increasing women’s participation in the economy, whether in formal jobs, or by enabling their growth in business and entrepreneurship, or by providing women access to knowledge and capacity building opportunities.
BinKaram added: “According to UN Women, 49 countries lack laws that protect women from domestic violence. Women also do 2.6 times more unpaid care and domestic work than men. We are working hard to change these realities with our key partners, which include UN Women, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), UNHCR, Education for Employment (EFE), and several others.
“Women’s education, health and safety, and their right to education and sustainable income are global concerns, which can only be tackled through strong global partnerships and sharing of knowledge and expertise. That is why such networking events and our visit to Islamabad is so important – the first of many we hope.”
The NAMA Director also invited the forum’s participants to the second edition of the Women’s Economic Empowerment Global Summit (WEEGS), which will be organised in Sharjah on December 10-11, 2019, in collaboration with UN Women.
Sheikha Hind Al Qassimi highlighted the role of SBWC in facilitating women’s access to resources for establishing themselves as owners of sustainable businesses, saying: “We have worked relentlessly to provide economic and professional support to businesswomen in our country and have attracted more than 2,000 female business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs so far. At SBWC our approach is to first familiarise these women with the country’s business ecosystem and then assisting them to set up their own enterprises in Sharjah.”
She added: “Bilateral trade between UAE and Pakistan reached $8.3 billion (Dhs30.4 billion), in 2016-17, recording a significant 9.4 per cent growth. Female-owned businesses have contributed greatly to these numbers, and there is so much more potential to be explored. Together, lets create a bright future for women in the economy, and walk shoulder to shoulder in realising the UN Sustainable Development Goal that envisions to create ‘Planet 50-50’ by 2030.”
Earlier that day, NAMA signed its first-ever agreement with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to conduct a 12-month project to support skilled and semi-skilled Afghan women refugees seeking asylum in Pakistan, as well as Pakistani women in the host communities. This will be done through artisanal and soft skills training programmes which will equip them with necessary skills, and provide them with fair, ethical and sustainable income-generating opportunities.
The project will target major host district of Panjab and Islamabad, and will be led by NAMA’s affiliate, Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council.
The NAMA delegation also met with the ASR Institute of Women’s Studies in Lahore, and visited the National University of Sciences and Technology to explore areas of cooperation, especially in the STEM fields.