Her Excellency Ms. Mariam Aqeel Al Aqeel, State Minister for Economic Affairs;
His Excellency Dr. Khaled Al Mahdi, Secretary-General, the Supreme Council for Planning and Development;
Professor Lubna Al-Kazi, the Women Research Center, Kuwait University
Distinguished representatives from the Government, Ambassadors, leaders from the private sector and civil society,
Colleagues from the United Nations, Ladies and gentlemen,
I am honored to welcome you to this Women’s Empowerment Principles meeting in Kuwait. At the inaugural event last October, Her Excellency Hind Sabih Barrak Al Sabih, Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, announced that Kuwait was joining the Women’s Empowerment Principles community. This was a big milestone, having created a momentum.
The UN and governments advocating for women’s empowerment is necessary but not enough. We need strong partnerships with civil society AND business leaders who are committed to gender equality, like those who came to sign the seven principles here today.
We know that business cannot be sustainable without women’s empowerment. Business cannot flourish without quality market research inclusive of both men and women. Companies cannot succeed without tapping on potentials of both female and male employees and without making everyone feel that they are empowered at work.
Yes, successful business leaders are the ones who recognize and act on the equality and full humanity of men and women. Businesses whether start-ups or Fortune 500, have the power to influence and make a positive change to structural discrimination against women.
Consumers are also the decision makers every single minute and they want to feel good by buying goods and services from the companies who stick to the principle of women’s rights, labor rights and environmental standard.
Our society, and particularly young generations and Millennials –– are looking at the private sector, as a trend setter for future dreams. In this world of social media and real-time exchange of what’s happening in every corner of the world, consumers are the most powerful judges to see which companies they like and which companies can walk the talk to respect fundamental human right of all people.
I thank you and congratulate the companies who are present here to come forward to joining the Women’s Empowerment Principles.
Let us remind ourselves, as women – corporate leaders, consumers, students, mothers and sisters – that let us not discriminate ourselves. Leadership is not only “outside-in”, but also “inside out”. It is also important to work on changing our own mindset on the part of women which put ourselves in a certain box, even subconsciously. Empowerment comes with accountability, and we have to support each other, and we can do it.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In coming July, the High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development Goals (so called SDGs) at the UN Headquarters in New York. 42 UN Member States will update on the progress made for SDGs, and Kuwait is one of 42 countries.
Gender is a cross-cutting issue across all the SDGs, ranging from health, education, decent work for all, energy, environment and good governance. In other words, advancement of SDG 5 on gender equality, will greatly contribute to the achievement of the rest of SDGs. When more women work, economies grow. Some studies done by the IMF and PwC show that increasing female labor participation boost GDP, and conversely, gender gaps cost the economy, with reduced GDP.
I take this opportunity to thank all of you who are present today, and call for more companies to join Women’s Empowerment Principles. By signing our pledge, you not only actively contribute to advancing gender equality in Kuwait, but also to prosperous and sustainable future, into a leading regional financial center by 2035.