Sheikh Mohammed with dignitaries at the GWFD in Dubai on Sunday. WAM
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
A landmark in 2016, the second edition of the “Global Women’s Forum Dubai” (GWFD) formally opened on Sunday afternoon at Madinat Jumeirah with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, in attendance.
Ivanka Trump, Senior Adviser to the US President, expressed her utmost gratitude to both men, before delivering her over 11-minute keynote speech that detailed how the UAE-US partnership in funding support projects for women worldwide, is gaining breakthroughs.
“Your Highness, Sheikh Mohammed, your presence and the presence of His Highness, the Crown Prince, thank you both; thank you both for your strong, steadfast commitment to advancing economic participation of women across Dubai but also in the broader (UAE).”
Sheikh Mohammed said that the UAE, inspired by the legacy of its founding fathers, has made major strides in supporting women by enacting legislations that reflect the importance of their role, and provide them opportunities to participate in the journey of development.
Sheikh Mohammed said the founding fathers considered protection of women’s rights and interests a strategic objective, based on which the country introduced the legislations and regulations necessary to make the partnership between men and women a reality and not just a slogan.
“We are proud of what we have accomplished in the area of women’s growth and advancement. We look forward to more achievements as our objective is to lead the world in this field. We have full confidence in the ability of women to effectively contribute to the UAE’s efforts to lead in every sector. We continue to extend our support and remove all the hurdles that women face.
“We also seek to provide them with all that is required to achieve the highest level of excellence. Emirati women currently represent half of the Federal National Council. The successes of women in the UAE encourage us to share our expertise and success stories with other nations,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
Ivanka thanked Sheikh Mohammed for his “commitment to advancing women’s economic participation across Dubai and the broader United Arab Emirates.” She commended Emirati leaders for “removing barriers to women joining the workforce and developing a national strategy that recognises that women are central to sustainable growth.”
She noted that last year, more than 70 per cent of Emirati university graduates were women.
She also commended key countries in the MENA region for instituting significant reforms over the past two years.
The businesswoman-author daughter of President Donald Trump also acknowledged the support of World Bank Group (WB) president David Malpass and International Monetary Bank (IMF) managing director Kristalina Georgiva who had spoken ahead of her.
Malpass pointed out the importance of e-commerce to emancipate women from poverty. He launched two new initiatives, the ScaleX Programme and the UPS e-Learning Modules.
In his opening remarks Malpass said, “We estimate that in MENA, increasing female labour-force participation to the levels of men could boost regional GDP by 47 percent. Currently, $575 billion in regional income is lost because of gender-based discrimination in laws, social norms and practices that constrain women’s rights and opportunities. Fortunately, more countries recognise that their economies can only reach their full potential with the full participation of both women and men.”
He said the World Bank has been working on two key areas; laws and regulations and broadening access to finance.
“We need to work towards having laws, policies, and regulations that empower women to succeed in the economy. The World Bank’s Women, Business, and the Law report tracks eight indicators for women — from entering the workforce to living in retirement — across 190 economies.”
Earlier, Mona Al Marri, delivered the welcome note at the opening session.
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