Private companies in Kuwait join forces to promote Women’s Empowerment Principles

Date: Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Workshop on Women’s Empowerment Principles with members of the private sector. Photo: UN Women/Cheslee Dsouza

Representatives from the private sector in Kuwait joined an orientation workshop on the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), a platform to mobilize business action to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment at the workplace, marketplace and communities.

The training was organized on 25 and 26 June as part of the project “Support to the State of Kuwait in the implementation of SDG 5 on Gender Equality”, which is implemented by the Women’s Research and Studies Centre (WRSC) of Kuwait University, in partnership with the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States (ROAS) and UNDP Kuwait.

The workshop was attended by selected staff from private sector companies that are signatories of the WEPs or are in the process of becoming signatories, including: ACICO, AMIDEAST, Limak Holding, HSBC Kuwait, Nasser & Nashie Construction (NNUC), KIPCO, Kuwait London Company (KLC) and the Women Mentor Forum (WMF).

Workshop on Women’s Empowerment Principles with members of the private sector. Photo: UN Women/Cheslee Dsouza

The workshop aimed at equipping the participants with the know-how and the skills to develop company implementation plans to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment and raise awareness of the business case for women’s equal participation in the economy. In addition, the participants were encouraged to become WEPs advocates and promote women’s economic empowerment through private sector engagement in Kuwait.

At the opening of the workshop, Ms. Yllka Gerdovci Cancel, Women's Economic Empowerment Specialist at UN Women ROAS, highlighted the importance of engaging the private sector in the advancement of gender equality. "Empowering women to participate fully in economic life is essential to building stronger economies and improving the quality of life for both women and men, and the private sector has a critical role to play to make that happen.”

Ms. Yllka Gerdovci Cancel, Women's Economic Empowerment Specialist and WEPs focal point at UN Women ROAS. Photo: UN Women/Cheslee Dsouza

One of the participants in the workshop, Ms. Sarah Al Kandari, Marketing Manager at KLC said “Our mission cannot be achieved without a diverse workforce that empowers women and treats everyone fairly and equally”. She added, “To retain and attract talented women, they need to feel secure and powerful in the organization”.

The workshop was designed to have an interactive nature and provided an opportunity to discuss in depth the 7 WE Principles and elaborate on gender equality issues nationally and globally. The participants were made aware of the facts and figures building the business case for women’s empowerment, were exposed to practical experience from their peers at the regional and global level as well as equipped with the tools and resources available to utilize in their planning and implementation of interventions to advance women in economy.

Ms. Sarah Al Kandari, Marketing Manager at KLC during the WEPs Orientation Workshop. Photo: UN Women/Cheslee Dsouza

“It’s extremely important to empower women in the private sector regardless of the industry as it serves as a platform first and foremost to hone their skills, but also to showcase their capabilities/talents that would eventually facilitate their career progression,” said Ms. Noor Al Bahar, Global Banking and Markets Associate at HSBC Kuwait.

Mr. Abdulrahman Saab, Senior Marketing Officer at ACICO Group noted that “Empowering women will reflect positivity in our life and boost development across every aspect”.

UN Women WEPs expert during a one-to-one meeting with one of the participants. Photo: UN Women/Nourhan A. El-Nagdy

Following the orientation workshop, UN Women experts provided customized support to private companies to develop their own workplans and align their strategies to the 7 WE Principles promoting the empowerment of women based on the needs and nature of their companies. A number of action points were agreed, and the communication bilaterally continues with private sector partners in Kuwait.

The state of Kuwait has set an example of leadership and zeal in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment principles within the private sector. Over the past few years, Kuwait has been working closely with several UN agencies to achieve SDGs and make significant improvements in closing the gender gap in labour force participation. Kuwait believes that the path to equality for Kuwaiti women in the labour market runs through espousing WEPs.