Five of Kuwait’s most prominent companies endorse the WEPs, publicly recognizing women as a driver for growth to achieve the country’s national development goals

Date: 1 October 2018

On 1 October, in a momentous occasion, Her Excellency Mrs. Hind Sabeeh Barak Al-Sabeeh, Minister of Social Affairs and Labour and Minister of State for Economic Affairs, General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, College of Social Sciences at Kuwait University, The Women's Research and Studies Center, United Nations Development Programme, UN Women and New Kuwait came together to launch the first of its kind global initiative in GCC: Women’s Empowerment Principles’ at the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The WEPs are an integrated framework developed by UN Women and the UN Global Compact in 2010 and offer 7 steps to guide businesses on how to promote gender equality and empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community.

The high level event, hosted under the auspices of Her Excellency Mrs. Hind Sabeeh Barak Al-Sabeeh, brought together some of the key industry players in Kuwait - EQUATE, Al Hamra Real Estate Co., Alghanim Industries, Burgan Bank and Gulf Insurance Company, who become the first official WEP signatories in Kuwait and champions for women’s economic empowerment. Publicly committing to the principles, the CEOs symbolically signed the ledger in front of government officials, business community, foreign dignitaries, media and influencers. Gulf Bank, National Bank of Kuwait, Zain Group and KIPCO were also among the participants, demonstrating the significant interest of Kuwait’s private sector companies in empowering women, to drive sustainable economic growth and social progress.

The initiative to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls falls under the framework of Sustainable Development Goal 5 aimed at mobilizing the Kuwaiti private sector to promote, support, and advance gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, in line with the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and 2035 Vision of Kuwait.  

Following the event, the United Nations Development Programme Kuwait and the UN Women Regional Office for Arab States, in collaboration with the Women Research & Studies Center, hosted a three day capacity building workshop aimed at increasing awareness and knowledge of selected Kuwait private sector companies on how to adopt the women’s empowerment principles within the framework of their business operations.

Impressions from the Event

It is paramount that we open up opportunities for women, and men, to address society’s most pressing challenges and enable solutions that would take our country forward. More women mean smarter business and stronger economies’, H.E. Mrs. Hind Sabeeh Barak Al-Sabeeh, Minister of Social Affairs and Labour and Minister of State for Economic Affairs.

There is certainly scope to boost further women’s economic empowerment in the private and public sector. We encourage all stakeholders to join hands to increase women’s participation in all sectors of the economy, including at managerial levels. Studies show that women’s participation at senior levels, such as corporate boardrooms, increases productivity and overall performance.’ Dr. Khaled Mahdi, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development.

“This is the third event on Women’s economic empowerment within the SDG5 in Kuwait. We have trained ten government agencies on gender-responsive budgeting. This particular initiative is aimed at the private sector, which includes the participation of several major companies interested in achieving the new Kuwait vision 2035 by increasing the number of women in leadership positions.”, Dr. Lubna Al-Kazi, Head of Women’s Research and Studies Center.

The United Nations is very pleased to be a party to this multi-stakeholder platform and to see this high level of committment to the economic empowerment of women that would help accelerate Kuwait’s economic, political and social progress. Increasing women’s participation in businesses will lead to better development outcomes for families and communities”, Dr. Tarek El Sheikh, UN Resident Coordinator, and UNDP Resident Representative in Kuwait.

‘When was the last time you saw a company with an organization-wide gender equality strategy? When more women work, economies grow. The dreams of thousand of girls and women depend on us.’, Ms. Nicolla Hewitt, UN Women Senior Advisor.

‘Women can count on the unwavering support and encouragement of Kuwait University, which firmly believes that the empowerment of women in society is one of the core indicators on which progress and advancement of nations is measured.", Dr. Jasem Ramadan Al Kandari, Representative of the President of Kuwait University.

Embracing global benchmarks to level the playing field between women and men is a fantastic leap forward to attract top-notch talent, drive sustainable growth, and innovation for the benefit of our clients, investors, and future generations. With support from our female leaders, we commit to a more proactive approach to women’s economic empowerment’, Mr. Faisal Al Houti, Chief Executive Officer, Al Hamra Real Estate Co.

‘It is our longstanding belief that championing gender diversity will create competitive differentiation and increase profitable outcomes. We have already enforced a full fledged internal corporate agenda to advance women’s careers and empower them with leadership roles to achieve success, including setting ambitious targets to achieve by 2020.”, Eaman Al Roudhan, Chief Executive Officer, Zain Kuwait.

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