ESCWA marked International Women’s Day on 11 March by a webinar on "The Role of Women in Leadership in the Arab Region", during which six Arab women shared their successful stories and experiences in assuming the positions they now hold.
In her opening remarks, ESCWA Executive Secretary Rola Dashti emphasized that women in the region have the ability to excel and make a difference. “We must dismantle barriers to ensure women’s full and effective participation in private and public life, and to empower them so they may become equal partners in achieving sustainable development and prosperity,” she added.
"Our role is not merely to advocate for the right of women to exist but rather to call for their full empowerment in society," Hana Al-Hajri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs in Kuwait, underscored.
For her part, Dima Akl, Executive Vice-President of Bank Al Etihad in Jordan, considered that "women are leaders by nature and therefore find in every challenge an opportunity, and in every opportunity a bright beginning that allows them to achieve what they aspire to."
As she took the floor, Basma Al-Qassar, Founder and President of the Women’s Mentor Forum in Kuwait, affirmed: "The biggest challenge women face is society itself; it is the biggest obstacle on their paths towards their goals.”
Participants highlighted the major difficulties faced by women in proving themselves and practicing professions or performing jobs that are often considered as restricted to men.
In her intervention, Joyce Azzam, a professional mountain climber from Lebanon, said: "Nobody expected me to be a mountaineer, but I welcome the challenge because it breaks the stereotype of what a woman should be."
To Lyn El Haraka, an architecture student from Lebanon, “International Women's Day strengthens our determination to dismantle the barriers and reach our goals by supporting each other.”
Lebanese poet Sarah Houmani, who opened the ceremony, concluded with the following words: "Look around you, you will find that no woman has escaped marginalization; that is why I dedicate much of my poetry to highlighting women's struggle.”
Participants agreed that every girl in the Arab region should seek to fulfill her dream, be it assuming managerial or political positions, taking up poetry, literature or engineering, or climbing the highest mountain peaks.
The United Nations marks International Women's Day every year on 8 March to build support for women’s rights and increase their participation in the political and economic arenas.