A message from Dr Afnan Al Shuaiby, Chairman of the Board of the Arab International Women’s Forum

As Chairman of the Arab International Women’s Forum, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to the new AIWF website, which we are proud to launch in our 20th anniversary year and as part of a wider strategic programme to scale up AIWF’s international advocacy in our key areas of focus:

  • Sustainability & STEM
  • Women’s Empowerment, Diversity & Inclusion
  • Youth Empowerment
  • The Future of Work in the MENA


Since AIWF’s inception in 2001 in London, when our organisation was founded by Haifa Al Kaylani, it has been our firm belief that 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 from the beginning.

In all that we do, we protect and promote the right of women to be treated fairly, equally, and with dignity. 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 is both a convener and a connector of people. We convene global and emerging leaders from government, public service, business, civil society, academia and media. We want to help our governments, the private sector, civil society and women themselves to create an Arab world where women are empowered to make a positive impact as equals and as leaders, in their communities, in parliament, in the economy, and in societal development overall.

We connect people, facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue and driving action to help women and young leaders unlock their potential and exercise their agency in the MENA Region. Through AIWF conferences, events, and initiatives, we bring Arab and international women leaders together in an independent forum and an inclusive environment, both in-person and virtually. As many of you who have attended our past in-person and virtual events will know, all our initiatives are programmed to highlight challenges and opportunities for women and young people in the private sector, in public service, in civil society.

We are proud to contribute to the realisation of the vision of an Arab World that is open for business, open for growth, and open to equality, an Arab World where women who are still greatly underrepresented and marginalised in economic and political life, can be empowered to make a positive impact as equals and as leaders. In 2021, our 20th Anniversary Year, AIWF has taken stock of the fast-evolving challenges that women and young people are facing in the MENA region (and in every region) in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We see that some MENA States are championing breakthrough empowerment measures for women in all sectors and spheres; others are regressing rapidly on many aspects of gender equality. We understand that the priorities of the governments, corporations, institutions, and civil society partners we work with have changed. We are energised to see that mindsets on gender, youth inclusion, sustainability and climate are continually evolving. And we stand ready to play a leading role in ensuring visibility for the region’s many success stories and facilitating decisive action for the Arab world’s marginalised millions.

Dr Afnan Al Shuaiby
Chairman of the Board
Arab International Women’s Forum

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