Supporting women's leadership and fostering youth-led innovation in the MENA Region and internationally
AIWF was founded in London in 2001 by Haifa Al Kaylani as a non-profit development organisation with the clear mandate of supporting and enhancing the role of women and young people in the social and economic development of their countries and across the Middle East region. Under Haifa’s leadership, AIWF has become an internationally renowned advocacy platform for inclusive growth, empowerment and sustainability for women’s and youth leadership, empowerment and innovation in the MENA region and internationally. AIWF celebrates its milestone 20th Anniversary in 2021.
On 01 January 2021, Haifa Al Kaylani was appointed President & Founder of AIWF and Dr Afnan Al Shuaiby was appointed Chairman of the Board of AIWF. In 2021, under Dr Afnan’s leadership and as we advance towards the 2030 SDG targets, the vision of AIWF is to realise an Arab world where women, who are still greatly underrepresented and marginalised in MENA economic and political life, are empowered to make a positive impact as equals and as leaders, in their communities, in grassroots advocacy, in parliament, in the economy, and in societal development overall.
How We Work
Working at the heart of the Arab world and internationally with civil society, the private sector, academia and governments, AIWF’s key areas for action are gender empowerment, diversity and inclusion; sustainability, STEM and women-led innovation; youth empowerment; and the future of work.
AIWF brings partners in all spheres together for conferences and initiatives that aim to build bridges, power progress, correct negative stereotyping and build the capacity of Arab women and young people at every level and in every sector.
AIWF also frequently supports global development events, campaigns and partner initiatives by facilitating introductions and nominations for Arab and international women to enjoy opportunities as keynote speakers and participants at high-level international conferences and events, as award nominees, and as summer school and training programme attendees.
When women are empowered to realise their full potential in business, public service and civil society leadership, families, communities and whole economies prosper. This principle lies at the heart of the region’s ambitious yet achievable 2030 Visions and has informed AIWF’s work and outreach since inception.
In all that we do, we protect and promote the right of women to be treated fairly and with dignity, and we recognise their remarkable resilience and persistence in leading change – in their families, their workplaces, the businesses they launch, the teams they lead, the solutions they innovate, and in the communities and societies in which they live.
AIWF works closely with a global network of corporate and institutional partners to promote and prioritise the engagement of women and youth towards finding innovative and actionable solutions to the multi-faceted and complex environmental, economic security, and developmental challenges the MENA region faces
AIWF has created numerous successful partnership coalitions throughout its history that have brought together governments, global institutions, leading multinational organisations, the private sector, civil society, universities, and most importantly, women and young people themselves.
AIWF is exceptionally proud of our partnership with PepsiCo, AIWF’s valued Global Partner since 2003 and our Exclusive Global Benefactor Partner since 2010. AIWF acknowledges the invaluable partnership of Shell, Pfizer and PwC, all longstanding Global Corporate Partners of AIWF that have empowered AIWF to fulfil its mission in the region on all our areas of shared concern around youth empowerment and economic inclusion of women in the region and globally, all committed to strong diversity policies and developing, training and progressing young professional women in the region.
Over two decades we have collaborated with The World Bank, the Union for the Mediterranean, the International Labour Organization, the Center for Mediterranean Integration, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD), the OECD (MENA-OECD Investment Programme), the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the League of Arab States, the Union of Arab Chambers, the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Paris Investment Agency, the City of London Corporation and the Dubai International Financial Center. AIWF also works with regional institutional partners, joining forces and linking networks to effect powerful, positive change for women and young leaders, including the Pearl Initiative, and the Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy (WiSER) platform hosted by Masdar.
Linking Academia with Industry
AIWF links partners in academia with partners in industry and the private sector to address the well-known skills mismatch in the region and integrate entrepreneurship and sustainability education into mainstream curricula. Since our inception, we are proud to have partnered with some of the world’s leading universities and regional institutes of learning to support opportunities for Arab women in higher education, with a focus on STEM, business and entrepreneurship, including Zayed University; the American University of Sharjah; INSEAD Abu Dhabi; the American University in Cairo; the American University in Beirut; Birzeit University West Bank Palestine; the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University; Instituto de Empresa Business School Madrid; Imperial College; the Royal Academy of Engineering; the University of Massachusetts Medical School; Princeton University; and Harvard University.
All AIWF academic partners promote the empowerment of women as an economic imperative and are advocates for entrepreneurship training and sustainability education to become a core part of the business and management syllabus in the region. AIWF is also very proud to offer internships to talented female students, routinely assists universities with research projects and always invites students to attend conferences and participate in its initiatives.
Working with Global Media
As part of its strategy to correct negative stereotyping of Arab women, AIWF has worked with global and pan-Arab media organisations, including the FT, Forbes Middle East and Fortune’s Most Powerful Women, to support empowerment initiatives and on special reports that promote gender diversity, regulatory and cultural reform, and to highlight the successes of women leaders in the Arab world and internationally.
We also partner with media entities in the region to advocate for greater representation of women executives in the MENA Region, and more opportunities for career progression and leadership training for women working in media, PR, communications and related industries in the Arab region.