AIWF Activities 2019


What Others Say

“We must create economic options for women so that the new generation of women can own their future, realise their potentials and fully contribute to their societies.”

-Ms Daniela Gressani, Vice President for the MENA Region, The World Bank

AIWF Conference, Washington DC, USA, June 2008

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The Arab International Women’s Forum and The American University in Cairo hold major conference in Egypt on Women as Engines of Economic Growth in September 2019 as part of AUC’s Centennial Celebrations

September 20, 2019


Cairo 2019

16 – 18 September 2019 | The Arab International Women’s Forum is proud to share that its major conference Women as Engines of Economic Growth: Empowering women innovators, entrepreneurs, executives and educators towards fulfilment of the SDGs in the MENA Region took place on 16 & 17 September 2019 at and in partnership with the American University in Cairo, with PepsiCo as Lead Conference Partner and PwC Middle East as Conference Supporting Partner.

Women as Engines of Economic Growth was an outstanding success for AIWF, AUC, PepsiCo, PwC and all AIWF Global Partners, with a rich programme that commenced with a very special President’s Reception hosted by the President of AUC on 16 September, followed by the Conference Opening Session and four highly interactive and exceptionally well-attended Conference sessions held on 17 September 2019. AIWF was proud to bring together Arab and international women leaders at The American University in Cairo, a leading hub for academic excellence, innovation and research in the Arab world, to share perspectives on opportunities and challenges for women’s leadership and examine current and emerging ‘future of work’ barriers to women’s participation in the economy, sustainability, political life and public service, in the MENA region and internationally. 

As Conference Chair, Mrs Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani, Founder & Chairman of AIWF, delivered the Conference Opening Keynote Address and welcomed Opening Session Guest of Honour Keynote Speakers: Francis J Ricciardone, President of AUC, HE Dr Hala El Said, Egypt’s Minister of Planning, Monitoring & Administrative Reform, Mr Mohamed Shelbaya, Chairman & CEO of PepsiCo Egypt, and HE Dr Maya Morsy, President of the National Council for Women in Egypt. A key session on empowering women in parliament and public service was also chaired by HE Mervat Tallawy, Former Director General, Arab Women Organisation & Former Egyptian Ambassador to Japan and Austria, and addressed by HE Jan Thesleff, Ambassador of Sweden to the Arab Republic of Egypt.

Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani, Founder & Chairman of the Arab International Women’s Forum, said: “Women as Engines of Economic Growth came at a pivotal time for women leaders in the MENA States and in Egypt, when we are witnessing greater involvement of women in the economy and in public office. We are all exceptionally proud of women’s achievements in these and all spheres, and we see their successes as key to addressing the empowerment challenges that remain. This is why AIWF took the lead on this initiative: to bring into focus the unprecedented opportunities for women to lead as drivers of economic change and growth in the Arab world and elaborate on how to develop those opportunities by working together to specifically address and overcome the challenges that remain.”

Mrs Al Kaylani continued, AIWF is proud to have had this opportunity to partner with The American University in Cairo as part of AUC’s Centennial Celebrations in 2019 on Women as Engines of Economic Growth, a key opportunity to recognise women’s path-breaking achievements in the private sector, public office, entrepreneurship, academia and sustainability, and to move momentum forward on women’s economic empowerment in the wider Arab world. In all our discussions, we aimed to collaboratively construct a robust strategy and framework of recommendations to support women in reaching their full leadership potential, in all sectors and spheres. In doing this, we have all opened doors even wider for women’s economic participation across the region.”

The Conference welcomed distinguished guest speakers representing the International Labour Organization, the League of Arab States, The World Bank, The American University in Cairo, the Egyptian Parliament, the National Council for Women in Egypt, PepsiCo Egypt, PwC Middle East, The GCC Boards Institute, the Economic Commission for Africa, the Anna Lindh Foundation, AFI Malaysia, Ashoka Arab World, the Mohammed Bin Salman College for Business and Entrepreneurship, the University of Geneva, and Cairo University, among others. AIWF was deeply impressed by the exceedingly high calibre of all our Panel Chairs, Distinguished Guest Speakers, and Conference Participants, all outstanding business, diplomatic and academic leaders who are most inspirational and accomplished in their fields, and who contributed at such a high level to the conference success.

Panel Sessions were designed to align closely with priority policy areas of AIWF, AUC, PepsiCo and PwC Middle East, with all sessions emphasising the important role of women in the economy and in society:


•   Advancing women’s leadership and gender diversity on corporate boards and in family business:

    Best practices from Egypt, the broader MENA region and internationally

•  Women in entrepreneurship and SME development, the rural / agricultural sectors and the informal economy

•  Women in public service and leadership: Towards gender parity in parliament and women’s inclusion 
    in policy making 

•  Reflections on the future of work for women and young people in the MENA Region

All Panel Sessions were highly interactive in format and discussions resonated deeply with the young leaders attending our conference from across the Arab world (specifically, from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Palestine, Morocco, Oman, Tunisia, Jordan and Lebanon) and internationally (with delegates representing Spain, Switzerland, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Mauritius, Malaysia, Austria and Cyprus).

The themes of the Women as Engines of Economic Growth Conference are at the heart of what AIWF has been leading with at the Arab and international level for over 18 years with the invaluable support of all our Global Partners. AIWF now looks forward to working closely with all our Conference Partners and Stakeholders to action the many valuable recommendations that emerged from the day’s conference discussions and set a new standard for women’s empowerment in the MENA region and beyond.

AIWF now looks forward with great optimism to working closely with all stakeholders to promote and action the many valuable recommendations and key outcomes of the conference, which will be documented in AIWF’s upcoming Special Report & Recommendations. Work on the Conference Report has now commenced and AIWF will announce the publication of this report on www.aiwfonline.com and in communication with AIWF’s Global & Institutional Partners, and all AIWF’s valued stakeholders and supporters in the international business, diplomatic, academic, and development communities. The Conference will also be extensively reported on in AIWF’s December 2019 Newsletter.


Photo Gallery

Pre-Conference Media Release (English)

Pre-Conference Media Release (Arabic)

AIWF Chairman's Opening Session Keynote Address (English)