Women 'playing major economic role'
Manama, December 13, 2012
Islamic countries are witnessing a paradigm shift in understanding the role of women with more platforms being provided to stimulate their economic participation, said experts at a major forum in Bahrain.
Women have transitioned from being entrepreneurs to leading corporate and state financial institutions, according to representatives of chambers of commerce, government and private sectors of Islamic countries.
Over 75 women from 37 countries convened at the Sixth Forum for Businesswomen in Islamic Countries, at the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Sanabis yesterday (December 12), said a report in our sister publication the Gulf Daily News.
"Over the last two decades, there has been a paradigm shift in the role of women and marked improvement of their status in Islamic countries," said Islamic Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture assistant secretary-general Attiya Ali on the sidelines.
"Men have begun to acknowledge and respect that women can make valuable economic contribution."
People in Islamic countries have also begun to accept the idea of women going out to work, she added.
"The collective evolvement of society has enabled greater empowerment of women," said Ali.
The economic role opens up political avenues for women in the Muslim world.
"We are seeing a change in mindsets as Islamic countries are opening up platforms for greater economic participation from women," she said. "Women are not just starting businesses but they're heading corporate sectors or running state banks, such as in Malaysia, which has a female state bank head."
Challenges and difficulties facing women in Islamic countries will be the highlight of the three-day conference, which is developed as a platform for women to work and invest together.
Entrepreneurship is ingrained in Islamic culture, said United Nations Industrial Development Organisation Bahrain director Dr Hashim Hussein.
"Entrepreneurship among women is derived from our culture and religion," he said. "Given the tools to unleash their potential, they perform even better than men."
Strategies implemented by the Supreme Council for Women will be shared with delegates.
"Recommendations from the forum will be presented to the Islamic Development Bank to enable better access to finance for women from macro to small and medium firms," he added.
Enabling women to adopt media and technology will also be highlighted at the forum.
"Technology is a gateway for women to run their businesses," said Bahrain Businesswomen's Society president Ahlam Janahi.
"We need to help develop the economy directly as entrepreneurs, we create jobs. There will be a circulation of cash flow, benefitting themselves and the country," she added. – TradeArabia News Service