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Kim’s Corner: MidEast Women Are Rising, Ready to Connect

9 February 2012 One Comment

Kimberly Weichel

-By Kimberly Weichel
CEO

I’ve just returned from a very interesting trip to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Gail Montplaisir, our board chair, and I went to establish relationships, build partnerships, and raise funds for our work. Our specific focus was to expand our very successful and quite unique program Connection Point, which links Arab, Muslim, and Western women via our network. There was universal interest in our program in the UAE and Bahrain and acknowledgement that this bridge-building is crucial at a time of so much change and uncertainty.

We spoke with a number of women who expressed interest in building community, expanding women’s leadership, and engendering hope. In Abu Dhabi I led a dialogue with a group of women from the region and we discussed issues such as building peace, the Arab perspective, women’s empowerment, women as peacemakers, and cross-cultural communication. It was a rich dialogue. Numerous ideas and projects were sparked, and the women expressed their desire for more engagement with other women on these issues.

The good news is that there is a lot happening in the region, and much of which we may not be aware. About 75% of all university students in the UAE are women, showing their hunger not only for education but for stepping forward into good jobs and positions of leadership. While men are still in many of the most prominent leadership positions (UAE is a patronage society run by the Sheikhs [and Shaikhas]), women have been moving into leadership positions in many ways. We spoke with women who head their own multi-national companies, professors at universities, journalists, authors, social entrepreneurs, and bankers. A number of women hold ministerial positions, such as Shaikha Lubna, the Minister for Foreign Trade. And, while many women don’t work because the government provides funds to all Emiratis at birth, marriage, and the birth of each child, others are seizing the opportunities for training, education, and leadership.

In Bahrain, many women of the royal family as well as those families that have historically been involved with business and trade are currently working in business, education, or philanthropy. People with whom we spoke are anxious for dialogue about political and social issues and very open to entering that dialogue through and with Peace X Peace and its network and members.

I came away feeling that the role of women in the Gulf Region is expanding in many ways and defining change in the region to suit their religion, culture, and needs. We were invited to participate with women from all over the region in a March conference called “Women as Global Leaders.” Our transportation will be covered by Etihad Airways, which also graciously provided tickets for the January trip. This will be another good opportunity to take the pulse of change, to meet women leaders and engage women in our work.

 

 

 

 

 

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One Comments to “Kim’s Corner: MidEast Women Are Rising, Ready to Connect”
  1. [...] Kim’s Corner: MidEast Women Are Rising, Ready to Connect – Peace X Peace The good news is that there is a lot happening in the region, and much of which we may not be aware. About 75% of all university students in the UAE are women, showing their hunger not only for education but for stepping forward into good jobs and positions of leadership. While men are still in many of the most prominent leadership positions (UAE is a patronage society run by the Sheikhs [and Shaikhas]), women have been moving into leadership positions in many ways. We spoke with women who head their own multi-national companies, professors at universities, journalists, authors, social entrepreneurs, and bankers. A number of women hold ministerial positions, such as Shaikha Lubna, the Minister for Foreign Trade. And, while many women don’t work because the government provides funds to all Emiratis at birth, marriage, and the birth of each child, others are seizing the opportunities for training, education, and leadership. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

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