Sheikha Al-Zain: today's female youth disenfranchised with system

By Nezar Almutairi

KUWAIT, May 4 (KUNA) — Today’s female youth are “sick and disenfranchised with the system in place,” Undersecretary of the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs Sheikha Al-Zain Al-Sabah said on Wednesday.
Sheikha Al-Zain was speaking at a first of its kind press conference entitled, “Women in the Corporate World – Beyond the Glass Ceiling,” a gender diversity conference co-organized by Al-Ghanim Industries and Gulf Bank, with a slew of local and international female leaders in attendance to offer their views on one of the world’s most primary social issues. Addressing a common question of what “women should do as they continue to grow up,” Sheikha Al-Zain pressed Kuwaiti women to lead by example, urging them to create opportunities for themselves to further their careers. “Nothing can stop Kuwaiti women from being the ultimate superheroes that they are, “she said. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Co-founder of Kuwait Energy Sara Akbar doled out similar advice, as she called on Kuwaiti women to take the initiative, urging them not to buckle underneath pressure in a male-dominated society.
Regarded as a hero for breaking new ground at a time where female participation was virtually unheard of, an impassioned Akbar encouraged women to aim high. “If Sara can do it, you can do it,” she quipped.
Moreover, CEO of Al-Ghanim Industries and Chairman of Gulf Bank Omar Kutayba Al-Ghanim described the issue of gender disparity in the workplace as “one of the most pressing problems of our time, country and region.” Occupational inequality and gender disparity has tremendous social, economic and psychological consequences, Al-Ghanim noted.
He also highlighted that the Middle East’s gender gap is three times wider than in most developing economies. “This needs to change if businesses are to flourish,” Al-Ghanim said, noting that the gender participation gap in Kuwait is at 39 percent. Al-Ghanim also urged women to break barriers, saying “we owe it to our wives, sisters and daughters.” Meanwhile, Founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media Randi Zuckerberg, the international keynote speaker for the conference, spoke of her humble beginnings in a middle-class American family in New York City. In her speech, Zuckerberg shared some of her personal tales of success, while offering her insights into the tremendous impact social media has had on everyday life.
“We are all fighting a difficult fight for gender equality,” Zuckerberg said, noting that “it is even a bigger fight in the Middle East.” Zuckerberg underscored that being entrepreneurial is valued in the workplace, as she encouraged women to start their own businesses and create their own ideas. “Any woman in this room can be a leader, you just have to walk the walk,” she said, a message that seemed to resonate with the crowd in attendance.
The conference represented a collective pledge to support gender parity in the workplace, where a widening gender gap in highly patriarchal societies across the Middle East is prevalent. Through speeches and panel discussions, the conference was part of efforts to put an end to one of the world’s most lingering social dilemmas. (end) nam

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