“At the time that I launched AIWF in 2001, there were many misconceptions about the role of women in the Arab region. I wanted to correct negative stereotypes in the international business and development communities, as well as importantly in the media, whilst providing a platform for action where women’s voices could be heard, challenges directly addressed and opportunities for women and young people fully leveraged. In 2001 when AIWF was started the challenges were different – there were few women in politics or represented in parliament, Arab women were only just starting to emerge on the global business scene and proving their potential as business leaders and innovators, and there were very few women appointed to highly visible international or diplomatic roles. So from the very beginning of AIWF’s inception in London, the organisation was about building bridges and business between women in the Arab region, the UK and internationally.” – Haifa Al Kaylani, President & Founder of the Arab International Women’s Forum
AIWF was launched in London in 2001 by Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani, who founded the Arab International Women’s Forum in London in 2001 as a development organisation committed to supporting women’s leadership in social and economic growth in the MENA region and internationally and creating equality of opportunity for all. Haifa served as the Chair of AIWF for nearly 20 years and under her leadership, AIWF has become one of the world’s most respected development organisations for the economic empowerment of women and young people, working at the highest levels with a global network of corporate, institutional and global advocacy partners to advance momentum for women’s leadership in all sectors and spheres. Over two decades AIWF has worked at the heart of the Arab world and internationally to move the agenda for women’s empowerment forward, addressing salient development issues that directly impact women and young people, and advocating for legislative and public policy change to remove roadblocks to women’s participation in Arab political systems.
AIWF is dedicated to empowering the talented, vibrant MENA workforce, focused on ensuring a sustainable future for the Arab region, on economic prosperity and growth, on job creation for Arab youth and with a special emphasis on ‘Women as Engines of Economic Growth’, empowering a critical mass of women who represent 50% of human capital in the Arab world. AIWF was founded on two guiding principles: firstly, from the firm belief that there is no development in any community, or politically, socially, or economically, without empowering women. And secondly, that the Arab world is part of the global community and women in the Arab region need to connect both together in the region but importantly with their counterparts internationally to exchange experience and knowledge, to do business, and break stereotypes.
The Arab International Women’s Forum was launched with the support of a distinguished Founder Board, led by Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani, Founder & Chairman, Arab International Women’s Forum, UK. The Founder Board included: Saida Agrebi, Chairman, Tunisian Mothers Association, Tunisia; HH Sheikha Hind Salman Al Khalifa, President, Children and Mothers Welfare Society, Bahrain; HH Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister for Foreign Trade, Government of United Arab Emirates; Dr Afnan Al Shuaiby, Former Secretary General & CEO, The Arab British Chamber of Commerce, UK; HH Sheikha Hanadi Nasser Bin Khalid Al Thani, Founder & Chairperson AMWAL, CEO Al Waab City Real Estate Development Project, Deputy CEO of Nasser Bin Khaled Al Thani & Sons Group, Qatar; The Late Ambassador Samiha Abou Steit, Deputy Secretary General, National Council for Women, Egypt; Nadia Hassan Bakhurji, Interior Architect & President, Riwaq of the Kingdom Co. Ltd, Saudi Arabia; Debra Davis, Director, City TV Broadcasting, UK; Bineta Diop, Director General, Femmes Africa Solidarité, Geneva, Switzerland; Raghda Kurdi, Managing Director & Vice President, Hayat Pharmaceutical Industries, Jordan; Sylvia Perry, Past President & Trustee, BPW International, UK; Inge Relph, Managing Director, Buy to Benefit, UK; and Dr Deisi Noeli Weber Kusztra, President of the World Family Organisation, Brazil.