The two individuals at the forefront of Sharjah's women's empowerment efforts and advocacy need no introduction. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi have passionately created an environment in Sharjah where girls and women are never left behind. Just one example are the 32 women-centric entities in Sharjah, including NAMA, which function under Sheikha Jawaher's leadership. There are around 3,000 women employed in different departments working under the aegis of Jawaher Al Qasimi. Her Highness' way of leadership emphasizes the importance of being thorough and learning from experience. It is due to this focus that we have developed tremendous research skills. Together with our three affiliates—Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC), Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, and our education and capacity-development arm, Badiri Education & Development Academy—NAMA's mission is to provide an enabling environment for women to access knowledge, services, support systems and resources, through a development network that advances them to reach their highest potential. We have been moving strongly on this path, thanks to our partnerships with notable organizations like UN Women and the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP).
Director, NAMA Women Advancement Establishment
Najla al Midfa
CEO, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa)
Sheraa continuously seeks to improve its programs and ensure we provide the support entrepreneurs need to build their start-ups. With their feedback in mind, we have revised our offering to focus on filling the critical gap between having a product and launching it into the market. Additionally, as part of our ongoing efforts to build our community and provide key entrepreneurial skills to young, aspiring entrepreneurs, Sheraa continues to partner with esteemed organizations to provide inspiration and mentorship to those still at the early stages of developing their business ideas. This “Founder First” philosophy is what I am most proud of about Sheraa. We are dedicated to creating an exceptional experience for everyone who joins our programs, free of charge. Moreover, the relationship extends far beyond their graduation. Our entrepreneurs know Sheraa will always be here to support them. I am also proud of the nature of the start-ups we attract, which is not only focused on financial gain, but also on creating positive impact. Our portfolio includes ventures in the fields of environmental sustainability, education, and financial inclusion; rise, for example, provides banking services for unbanked migrants in the UAE, and is now serving over 20,000 unique users on their platform every week.
A window onto our inner lives, books are also the doorway to mutual respect and understanding between people, across all boundaries and differences. Books are also a form of cultural expression that lives through and as part of a chosen language. 2019 marks the International Year of Indigenous Languages, led by UNESCO, to reaffirm the commitment of the international community to supporting indigenous peoples to preserve their cultures, knowledge, and rights. This day provides an opportunity to reflect together on ways to better disseminate the culture of the written word and to allow all individuals, men, women, and children to access it. This is the same spirit of inclusion and dialogue that guides Sharjah, designated World Book Capital 2019. Sharjah was selected in recognition of its program “Read – you are in Sharjah” that proposes to reach out to its marginalized populations and its creative proposals to involve migrant populations in order to act as a motor for social inclusion, creativity, and respect. With Sharjah, our partners, the International Publishers Association, the International Booksellers Federation, and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, and the entire international community, let us join together to celebrate books as the embodiment of creativity, the desire to share ideas and knowledge, to inspire understanding, dialogue, and tolerance.
Noura Al Noman
Chairperson, Rubu’ Qarn Foundation
Sharjah has a reputation for being the first to do innovative things. Thanks to His Highness's continued focus on culture, there has been an effort in Sharjah to educate the youth and families. His Highness's mission for Rubu' Qarn is something that I have always wanted to do—albeit without knowing it consciously. This mission is the solution to almost every problem. All problems ranging from small misbehaviors by children and adults such as public littering to more serious forms of crime can be solved with having the right institutions to fill the lives of children with knowledge and ethics. It is possible to fill the lives of children with books, music, painting, technology, among other things, and they will not have time for anything else. Our vision is to nurture a generation that is mindful, which many have completely forgotten. Mindfulness means being aware of one's self before looking at others and judging them. We want a generation that is mindful and educated, values curiosity, asks questions, and continuously seeks knowledge. Whether our children come back to Sharjah or not, whether they become ambassadors or chose to stay at home and not work, they need to take away certain values and pass on those values to the next generation.
Hanan Al Mahmoud
CEO, Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre
We were created to fill a gap in the market for the citizens and leader of Sharjah for a venue that offers comprehensive solutions for their own social events, be they weddings, engagements, or graduation ceremonies. We have been gaining the confidence of the government and the private sector. Many organizations have hosted forums, product launches, exhibitions, and press releases here. We have expanded to outside catering as well, and we are catering to all of the UAE. There is a gap in the market for events that corporates want to gather during, such as iftar meals during Ramadan. There are no venues that can host such large numbers of employees. We also organize and construct lots of master classes. We research the market and try to build something for which there is a demand. So far, we have done cooking master classes, table etiquette, table settings, and much more. This is one of the best times for hospitality in Sharjah. The Emirate has always been a pioneer in the fields of culture and education since the beginning of the UAE. With the establishment of the investment authority of Sharjah, there is a dedicated entity to investing and making sure tourism develops and infrastructure develops.
Under-Secretary-General , UN & Executive Director of UN Women
The theme for the first Women's Economic Empowerment Global Summit is women excelling in the economy, here and around the world. For women to excel in the economy, they need access to productive assets, resources, and technology. If women played an identical role in labor markets to men, as much as USD28 trillion could be added to the global annual GDP by 2025. One way in which we support women's economic empowerment in UN Women is through a movement called “HeForShe.” It encourages men to stand for gender equality so that when we have a glass ceiling, the man removes it so that the women do not have to shatter all the glass themselves. This is about making sure that when women at the grassroots level are unable to rise higher in their business activities because of low wages, the men who participate in making decisions about the economy pay attention and support the improvement of women's wages. We want to thank also the UAE's Department of Foreign Affairs for assisting and guiding us to make sure that this initiative, which will lead to job creation for women, will come to fruition.