The Kuwaiti Women's Associations Union organized and hosted the international conference titled "Community Empowerment for Women: International Models and Kuwaiti Perspectives.” April 2021

A brief overview of the conference:

In an effort to solidify Kuwait's status as a "global humanitarian center" and uphold its social responsibility, the Union aimed to empower women and promote gender equality. Recognizing the noble objectives associated with this responsibility, they sought to spread a culture of social peace in all human societies. Kuwait places special emphasis on women's participation because they serve as a crucial pillar in both local and global humanitarian work.

With the intention of enhancing and showcasing Kuwait's efforts in achieving comprehensive and sustainable development goals, the Kuwaiti Women's Associations Union, led by Sheikha Fadia Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah, Chairperson of the Board, organized the "Community Empowerment" conference. The conference was held under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, the Prime Minister of Kuwait. It saw the participation of experts, specialists, as well as male and female members of society, in addition to some Arab, regional, and international organizations.

The conference's key themes and dimensions included:
  • Women in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
  • Arab women amidst developmental challenges.
  • Future prospects for Kuwaiti women.
  • A reference vision on international trends related to women's sustainable development and empowerment.
  • Advancement of Arab and Kuwaiti experiences in women's development and empowerment.
  • The uniqueness of the Arab experience and women's achievements in the context of developmental gains.
  • The status of Arab women within the framework of mutual influence and impact.
Speakers at the conference included:
  • Her Excellency Sheikha Dina bint Rashid Al Khalifa, Director-General of Policies and Development, representing the Supreme Council for Women (Bahrain).
  • Professor Fadia Kiwan, Director-General of the Arab Women Organization (Lebanon).
  • Ms. Lubna Tarbai, Director of the Methodology Lab at the Lebanese University and a women's affairs researcher (Lebanon).
  • Dr. Nazem Assaf, Director of the Amman Center for Human Rights Studies (ACHRS) (Jordan).
  • Ms. Maha Kayal, Head of the Research Center at the Institute of Social Sciences, Lebanese University (Lebanon
  • The conference was opened by Sheikha Fadia Al-Saad, President of the Union. In her speech, she extended her appreciation to the attendees, including His Excellency Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, the Prime Minister of Kuwait, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen. She expressed her delight at addressing everyone through this virtual platform as part of the conference organized by the Kuwaiti Women's Associations Union, an initiative initially founded in 1994 with the noble guidance of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa Al-Fahad Al-Salem Al-Sabah, a pioneer in women's development work. The purpose was to strengthen cooperation and coordination among women's associations at the local level and highlight their role internationally. She emphasized that this initiative took place before the establishment of the Women's Affairs Committee, and they look forward to the rich and diverse themes of this event contributing to formulating suitable answers to the major challenges hindering development efforts.
  • Sheikha Fadia added that today, international, regional, and national initiatives require innovative, goal-oriented efforts, and coordinated work that guarantees the sustainability of their impacts. She also emphasized the importance of creative comparisons based on renewal. Considering that Kuwait is working towards an ambitious development plan, the "Kuwait Vision 2035," which seeks to empower women fully and develop human resources scientifically and globally, our country is called upon, within the framework of its development journey, to further invest in all its capabilities, especially its non-material capital. Kuwait should leverage the competencies of its women through effective partnerships with the relevant institutions and achieve cooperative strategic partnerships with international women's associations. All of this requires more efforts to develop women's active participation in decision-making positions and to optimally utilize their strong inclination towards entrepreneurship. Sheikha Fadia stressed that both the public and private sectors, along with civil society organizations, play a crucial role in reinforcing women's leadership as a driving force for development. This conviction is an integral part of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, which top its list of 17 related objectives. She concluded her remarks by welcoming the participants to the virtual conference, expressing her hopes that their endeavors will be successful.
  • Dr. Haila Al-Mekaimi: Empowering Women is an International Issue and Activating It is Important for Democratic Engines
  • Under the title "Women in the Context of Sustainable Development Goals 2030," the first international session commenced, presided over by Dr. Haila Al-Mekaimi, the conference's General Coordinator. She began by expressing her gratitude to Sheikha Fadia Al-Saad, President of the Women's Union, and the attendees, while highlighting her happiness about the conference's convening. Dr. Al-Mekaimi emphasized that empowering women is indeed an international issue, and activating it has become an important indicator for democratic engines that the Arab and Gulf countries are striving to achieve.
  • Dr. Al-Mekaimi noted that advancing Arab and Kuwaiti experiences in women's development and empowerment requires a comparative perspective with other international experiences, especially those closely related to the nature of the Arab experience. The first session aims to host several international experts working in international organizations to focus on these experiences within a comparative framework based on recent developments over the past five years. According to United Nations decisions and the global sustainable development plan between 2020 and 2030, this session implies an orientation toward the future plans of the United Nations to encourage international support for women's empowerment-related development efforts.
  • Wibke König: The Necessity of Working Through the Women's Union to Support Women's Roles in Various Fields
  • Wibke König, the CEO of the Global Leadership Academy (GIZ), expressed her appreciation for the Kuwaiti Women's Associations Union from Germany. She stated that she has been leading a program for the Global Leadership Academy for the past ten years. This program has conducted 16 international conversations, one of which was about leadership and its significance. She highlighted the importance of multiple discussions about what is happening in our surroundings and emphasized the importance of cooperation and time management. She stressed the necessity of expanding the scope of the Women's Union's activities, broadening its reach, and supporting women's roles in various fields outside the traditional framework.
  • Dr. Fajita Iyango: Kuwait Leading in Women's Leadership without Undermining Women
  • Dr. Fajita Iyango, the CEO of the American Diplomatic Academy for Education and Development, spoke about her agenda concerning disaster strategies that women encounter in their lives, such as early marriage or divorce. She pointed out the importance of gathering information about any disaster to enable us to deal with it. Through a presentation, she revealed that Kuwait is leading in women's leadership without considering any outdated metrics that undermine women or work against them.
  • Dr. Fatma Batoul Sayan: Women's Participation Continues to Grow, and We Support Equality
  • Dr. Fatma Batoul Sayan, Deputy Chair of the Justice and Development Party and a member of the Grand National Assembly in Turkey, mentioned that Turkey gradually supports women in crises, making them stronger every day and supporting their stances in all fields. She commended the progress women have achieved by taking on important roles in various economic, social, scientific, and political fields. She noted the continuous increase in the number of women participating in various positions and the importance of equality for women, who are considered the center of society as a whole.
  • Cathy Allen: The Need to Enhance Women's Presence in Leadership Positions and Improve Their Image in the Media
  • Cathy Allen, the head of the communications group in the United States, expressed her delight at participating in this conference and mentioned her pride in the achievements of Kuwaiti women. She noted the growing number of Kuwaiti women in the fields of business and media. She highlighted the significant changes in the status of women worldwide, particularly in the last five years, and emphasized that women have gained a leading role in ministries and jobs. She stressed the importance of focusing on the younger generation of girls.
  • She also expressed her admiration for successful women who have managed to overcome their challenges, demonstrating their success. She cited examples from some Arab countries that have already started improving the image of women.
  • Second Session: "Arab Women in the Face of Development Challenges"
  • The second session, titled "Arab Women in the Face of Development Challenges," was moderated by Dr. Fadia Kiwan, the General Director of the Arab Women Organization.
  • Hessa Bint Essa: The UAE is Working to Support and Empower Women, Similar to Kuwait's Experience
  • Hessa Bint Essa, the Minister of Community Development in the UAE, discussed the UAE's experience and the challenges facing women. She mentioned that the UAE has worked to support and empower women in various ways, elevating their status and enabling them. She noted that Kuwait's pioneering experience in this regard is similar to that of the UAE. She affirmed Kuwait's success in providing women with what they need to succeed and be role models in various fields, just as the UAE seeks to empower women.
  • Sheikha Dina Al Khalifa: The Kingdom of Bahrain Is Eager to Support Women and Enhance Their Role in Sustainable Development
  • Sheikha Dina bint Rashid Al Khalifa, Assistant Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Women in the Kingdom of Bahrain, mentioned that the Arab Gulf region is currently going through a pivotal phase in which women have achieved high levels of progress. She highlighted the enhancement of the legislative environment in Bahrain regarding women's issues, seeking to develop national policies that serve women and ensure a fair environment. She emphasized Bahrain's commitment to supporting women and enhancing their role in sustainable development.
  • Lubna Tarabay: The Role of Lebanese Women in the Political Sector Is Still Modest
  • Professor Lubna Tarabay, specializing in cultural anthropology and the director of the anthropology lab at the Lebanese University, discussed the role of women in the political sector. She noted that Lebanese women's involvement in the political sector is still modest.
  • Dr. Nizam Assaf: Jordanian Women Face Obstacles in Societal Development
  • Dr. Nizam Assaf, the president of the Jordan Center for Human Rights Studies, spoke about the main challenges facing Jordanian women. He mentioned that women have had the right to vote since 1974, with the introduction of a women's quota. However, their representation has decreased in recent years, both in the executive branch and the diplomatic corps, along with leadership positions. He pointed out the obstacles that Jordanian women face in societal development, such as the lack of legislative and electoral mechanisms, as well as the prevailing male-centric mentality in society.
  • Dr. Dina Yahya: Egyptian Women Have Achieved Unprecedented Gains
  • Dr. Dina Yahya, a representative of the National Council for Women in Egypt, talked about the Egyptian experience and its role in empowering women. She emphasized that women's issues have been a focus for years, and in recent years, there has been unprecedented progress, thanks to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's policies. Women in Egypt have gained significant rights and entitlements, reflecting the political leadership's commitment to empowering women.
  • Dr. Luna Abu Suweir: To Achieve Sustainable Development, Women Must Be Engaged at All Levels
  • Dr. Luna Abu Suweir, the General Director of the Center for Arab Unity Studies in Lebanon, discussed the global challenges women face, especially in the Arab world, due to religion and the law. She highlighted the importance of engaging women fully and equally with men at all levels to achieve sustainable development
  • Third Session: Future Prospects for Kuwaiti Women
  • Ambassador Talal Al-Mutairi: We Are on the Path to Overcoming Challenges Facing Women within a Social Dialogue
  • The third and final session, titled "Future Prospects for Kuwaiti Women," was moderated by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Human Rights Affairs, Ambassador Talal Al-Mutairi. He emphasized Kuwait's long-standing commitment to empowering women socially and expanding their societal participation by enhancing their roles in decision-making centers, politics, society, and the economy. He noted that recent years have witnessed obstacles and challenges in the journey of Kuwaiti women, some of which have been overcome, while others are still in the process of being addressed through continuous societal dialogue.
  • MP Osama Al-Shaheen: We Call for Organizing Ranks and Defining Demands
  • Osama Al-Shaheen, the Head of the Women, Family, and Child Committee in the National Assembly, stated that the legislative journey is still long, and legislation, in general, tends to be male-centric. Legislators often craft laws without considering the other half of society, which reflects the lack of attention to women. He suggested that the parliamentary committee responsible for women, family, and child affairs should be permanent and that the presence of women should be constant and substantial.
  • He further highlighted that the freedom in Kuwait requires women to be active in politics, media, and the judiciary, and called on those interested in women's issues to organize their efforts, define their demands, and ensure that these demands are clear and achievable.
  • Kawthar Al-Jou'an: We Demand Women's Involvement in Decision-Making for Sustainable Development
  • Kawthar Al-Jou'an, President of the Women's Development and Peace Institute, mentioned that Kuwaiti women have managed to take steps that align with the spirit of the times and various stages of development, thanks to divine support and the support of political leadership who view women as essential partners in national development. She stressed the necessity of involving women in public decision-making, removing obstacles in their way, and enhancing national policies. She also emphasized the role of media in highlighting women's activities and ensuring their involvement.
  • Dr. Aroub Al-Rifai: Attention to the Challenges Facing Women with a Clear Plan Is Necessary
  • Social activist Dr. Aroub Al-Rifai discussed the social empowerment of women in Kuwait, noting that it is a broader concept than political empowerment. Social empowerment means influencing society and creating social change. She argued that this process should start with the government, given its influence in social upbringing. She also emphasized the importance of addressing the challenges that women face. Despite the government's support for women's representation in parliament, education, the judiciary, and the female police force, a clear plan for women's issues is still lacking.
  • Dr. Maha Al-Sageri: We Demand the Enhancement of Cultures and Activation of Voluntary Work to Empower Women
  • Professor of the College of Social Sciences at Kuwait University, Dr. Maha Al-Sageri, revealed three essential elements required for women's empowerment: human behavior, cultural community building, and cultural relativism. She stated that the Kuwait Vision 2035 requires the implementation of a societal identity and the enhancement of citizenship. She emphasized the importance of love for the country and the necessity of engaging in voluntary work, as it boosts women's self-confidence and faith in their capabilities. It is essential to promote diverse cultures.