Emirates BWC, NAMA highlight need for better integration of women in economy at Kazakhstan’s Global Silk Road Forum

United Arab Emirates, July 4, 2018

The Emirates Business Women Council, Emirates BWC, and NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, NAMA, represented the UAE at the Forum of Mayors of the Cities of the Silk Road Countries 'Global Silk Road,' which took place recently in Astana, marking the 20th anniversary of Astana becoming the capital of Kazakhstan.

The two-day event presented these entities an opportunity to explore new ways to stimulate international cooperation in trade with a particular focus on the role of the Arab region situated at the intersection of the 'Belt and Road' initiative, BRI, that connects Asia, Africa and Europe and supports sustainable development goals by opening access to markets in different countries.

The 15-member delegation included representatives of the Emirates BWC headed by Farida Abdullah Kamber Al Awadhi, Emirates BWC Chairperson, while NAMA’s representatives were led by their Director, Reem BinKaram.

The Global Silk Road Forum shed light on several global challenges faced by members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and discussed issues related to the digital impact of the Silk Road in the 21st century, the new form of regulating international cooperation in business and scientific support, and topics about the empowerment of women, youth and non-government organisations.

In her keynote address, Al Awadhi highlighted the fact that the UAE is reinforcing its long-term strategies and efforts geared towards providing women an equal playing field, equal opportunities and equal participation in the enforcement of national development goals as these will be key indicators of their realisation of the UAE Vision 2021 and the UAE Centennial 2071 Plan.

These efforts, she noted, are being led by H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union (GWU), President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF).

'The UAE’s efforts to further women’s access to the economy, ensure children’s welfare and support Emirati families have gained regional and international recognition, particularly with the launch of the National Strategy for the Empowerment and Leadership of Women in the UAE 2015–2021,' Al Awadhi said.

Female-owned businesses account for nearly 10 percent of the UAE’s private sector, including over 48,000 SMEs. Al Awadhi called on the forum’s attendees to strengthen international partnerships by leveraging the UAE's strategic location, business-friendly environment and advantages offered to women-owned and led businesses to stimulate transfer of knowledge and boost progress, especially in the field of finance in which UAE boasts both intellectual and economic leadership.

BinKaram shared important statistics on the economic role played by the UAE’s women, and how that substantially impacts national and regional growth. She partly attributed this to the strong academic infrastructure in the UAE with 46 percent science, technology, engineering and mathematics, STEM, graduates being women. She also noted that 77 percent of Emirati women enrol in higher education after secondary school and make up 70 percent of all university graduates in the UAE.

Highlighting the fact that the UAE’s SMEs sector is expected to reach 70 percent of the non-oil GDP in 2021, BinKaram has urged political decision-makers and representatives of economic bodies and institutions to include women in their global development plans and stressed the need to strengthen efforts for the equal representation of women in the world economic structure.

During their participation, the UAE delegation also met Gulshara Abdekalikova, State Secretary of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Chairman of the National Commission for Women, Family and Demographic Policy, under the Presidency of the Republic of Kazakhstan, to discuss possible areas of cooperation in enabling women in the two countries to reach more prominent economic roles.

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