AIWF participates at 2019 Gender & Growth Policy Forum at Chatham House on Shaping the Future We Want

AIWF participates at 2019 Gender & Growth Policy Forum at Chatham House on Shaping the Future We Want 9 July 2019

AIWF Chairman Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani was a key panel speaker at the 2019 Gender and Growth Policy Forum held at Chatham House in London, titled Shaping the Future We Want and organised by the Chatham House Royal Institute of International Affairs. The Forum was a key opportunity for stakeholders to come together and find innovative solutions to re-shape the world of work – specifically, on creating a work environment that works for women and works for all; identifying practices which support women-owned/led businesses; and developing strategies to empower women in all forms of entrepreneurship.

Mrs Al Kaylani participated on a high-level panel titled Entrepreneurship in the MENA region, which examined the MENA region as a case study to understand how initiatives and programmes piloted across the region contribute to creating an environment in which female entrepreneurs can develop and eventually scale their business against a backdrop of strong social and cultural norms, in which access to markets and finance can make a significant difference for women-owned enterprises. The panel was moderated by Esraa Al Buti, Director, Business Tax Advisory Services, EY, and also featured Farmida Bi, Chair, Europe, Middle East and Asia, Norton Rose and Salma Al-Rashid, Head of Delegation, W20 Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia.

In her Opening Statement, Mrs Al Kaylani said: “Governments around the MENA region recognise that the economic impact of continuing to exclude one half of the region’s most precious natural resource – its human talent – is unthinkable, and the long-established preference of young graduates towards public sector employment unsustainable. I believe this is an optimum time for the MENA region to scale up and invest in creating an enabling environment that engages all potential entrepreneurs, producers, and investors, including women and young people with the education, experience, ideas, ambition and aptitude to make a real difference in the economic future of the Arab world.”

Mrs Al Kaylani explained that infrastructure has improved significantly throughout the region and Arab states have invested significantly in education over the last three decades. As a result, creative, talented and highly ambitious young Arab women are seeing unprecedented opportunities and market gaps in which to launch successful businesses both online and off, redefining traditional business models and meeting the needs of the regional market in valuable and highly innovative ways. Sectors in which female entrepreneurs are thriving include digital marketing, advertising, games, education technology platforms, e-commerce websites, fashion retail, and publishing of online magazines, apps and software.

She said: “Given the vast and untapped potential of women’s increasing participation in the workforce, which by 2025 could add an estimated $2.7 trillion to the whole of the region’s economy, the growing trend of women launching viable, innovative and scalable start-ups in the region could be truly transformative for the Middle East economy and for the prosperity of women and young people, families and communities throughout the region. Empowering women entrepreneurs in the MENA region is the key to unlocking the Arab world’s economic potential – all that is needed is the right business environment and the ecosystem in place to support them as they navigate their way towards success in the entrepreneurial space.”

AIWF commends Chatham House Director Dr Robin Niblett and his team for organising this valuable event and looks forward to continued collaboration in the future with the Chatham House Royal Institution for International Affairs.


Photo Credit: Suzanne Plunkett, Chatham House