The Business Year

Awatef Mohammed Al-Dafa, Board Member, Qatari Businesswomen Association (QBWA)

QATAR - Economy

Awatef Mohammed Al-Dafa

Board Member, Qatari Businesswomen Association (QBWA)

Bio

Awatef Mohammed Al-Dafa is a board member on the QBWA. She has founded two businesses: Arabella, a fashion outlet offering luxury evening gowns, and Regalo, a gift shop for beautifully crafted accessories and Italian home decor items. She is a member in many charities in Qatar and abroad. She was chair of the Mosaic Foundation, a Washington based non-profit that aims to improve the lives of women and children. She is also an active member of the Qatar Diabetes Association and Al Heba Cancer Society in Qatar Voluntary Center. She has also collaborated with Qatar Cancer Society to raise awareness of breast cancer.

For many years, QBWA has worked to aid in the professional development of women and launched many initiatives for female entrepreneurs to advance their businesses.

For many years, QBWA has worked to aid in the professional development of women and launched many initiatives for female entrepreneurs to advance their businesses.

How can better synergy be created between the advancement of women and the realization of the Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV2030)?

In Qatar, major work is underway to empower women as part of the QNV2030. The vision prioritizes women’s right to study, work, and enhance their social status. One of the goals of QNV2030 is to enhance women’s capacities and help them participate fully in the political and economic spheres, mainly in decision-making. Qatar remains committed to all regional and international agreements on women’s rights and gender equality. Our country’s legislation prevents discrimination against women when it comes to employment whether in the public or private sector. I would like to see more women assuming better positions to play a role in the socio-economic growth of our country and achieve the objectives of QNV2030.

Can you describe the advocacy work you are doing to raise the awareness of the role of women in Qatar?

I have always believed in the importance of women’s role; I have been a strong advocate since my time in the US, when I worked with the spouses of Arab ambassadors in the Mosaic Foundation in the mid-2000s to support underprivileged women and children in the US and the Arab world through fundraising and social work. For over a decade, we have been doing a tremendous job in the Qatar Business Women Association (QBWA) to assist women through vocational training and professional development to help them contribute to the economic growth of the country. Also, through QBWA, we have launched many initiatives for female entrepreneurs to develop their skills and advance their businesses.

How would you assess the role of education in empowering women to take further steps in becoming leaders of the country?

Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” I truly believe that you can achieve wonders and advance any nation with education. Over the past two decades, Qatari women have focused on education to play a bigger role in society. At the postgraduate level, female students have outnumbered males. Almost 75% of Qatari students registered at Qatar Foundation universities have been women, according to the organization’s official figures. Thanks to Qatar’s wise leadership, young Qatari women were given an alternative to scholarships abroad by attending international universities right here in Doha. These efforts have empowered women and given them greater opportunities to join the workforce. We have seen female decision-makers playing a pivotal role in the government sector, female doctors who worked day and night at the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic, and brilliant female engineers in the oil and gas sector, just to name a few.

What would be your message to the Qatari business community on how to best integrate women?

My message to Qatari women is to stand up for their rights and inspire the new generation of young girls to be future leaders. Thanks to the great leadership of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, women have gained equal opportunities with men and assumed the leadership positions of ministers, ambassadors, directors in both public and private institutions, and entrepreneurs among other roles. Qatari women have also become the region’s first female judges and prosecutors. I encourage women to never stop learning, educating themselves and developing their skills. I call upon women’s organizations to support the building of self-confidence in women and to promote the self-development of young girls. I also call upon women to speak up if they face any kind of discrimination whether in the workplace or in society.

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