Report of the Fifth Forum for Businesswomenin Islamic Countries
Cairo, ArabRepublic of Egypt, 22-24 April 2010
In order to realize the economic potential of businesswomen in the OIC Member Countries, the General Secretariat of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) has initiated a comprehensive program for the economic empowerment of businesswomen of the Member States. This has been done by holding Businesswomen Forums in Islamic Countries on annual basis in collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, UNDP, Member Chambers, and Businesswomen Association. So far, four (4) Forums have been held, First in Sharjah, U.A.E. in March 2005; Second in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 8-10 December, 2006; the Third was held in Doha – State of Qatar 13-15 January 2008 and the Fourth in Damascus, SyrianArabRepublic on 2-4 November 2008.
On the kind invitation of Egyptian Business Women Association (EBWA), the General Secretariat of the Islamic Chamber had organized the Fifth Forum for Businesswomen in Islamic Countries under the theme of “Empowerment of Business Women to Meet the MDGs”. The Forum was held under the kind patronage of H.E. Madame Suzan Mubarak, First Lady of the Republic of Egypt from 22 to 24 April 2010. It was held in collaboration and support of the Perez-Guerrero Trust Fund / United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Islamic Development Bank Group (IDB).
The Forum was attended by 150 foreign participants from 38 OIC member countries, 4 non OIC countries,representative of H.E the Secretary General of OIC, representative of the Islamic Development Bank, representatives of UNDP, COMESA, and IDB.In addition,speakers from various countries of the Islamic World as well as, representatives of renowned International Institutions, who have played a key role in developing businesswomen’s communities and have made a considerable impact on the socio economic sector of their respective countries.
An Exhibition was also held on the sidelines of the Forum. The Exhibition coveredvarious goods, handicrafts, carpets, garments, jewelleries and other products manufactured by enterprise owned by businesswomen or individual women entrepreneursparticipating in the Forum, who represented different Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Uganda, Nigeria, Turkmenistanand Egypt.
The Forum was inaugurated on Thursday 22nd April 2010 at Mena Oberoi Hotel in Cairo-Arab Republic of Egypt, with the recitation from the Holy Quran, followed by the following statements:
In her statement Dr. Amany Asfour, President of EBWA, welcomed all the participants in Cairo, where women have been empowered since thousands of years women were empowered. She further said that the realization of the eight MDGs defined by the United Nations is a collective responsibility of all the Governments, private sectors, national and international organizations and emphasized that it can only be achieved with the empowerment of women and clarified the relation of empowering women economically with the attainment of the MDGs.
She stated that the teachings of Islam empower women and that our prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) believed in empowering women. She further said this event reflects the joint cooperation of numerous stake holders and a collective effort to achieve MDGs. She called for exerting efforts on three pillars 1) to empower the personality of the women, enhance their self confidence, train and build their capacities and called for ending any discrimination against women in any culture. 2) Policy and procedures of the governments, by adopting the right policies for the development of women. 3) Improve quality of women products through value addition and a suitable use of technology.
She thanked the ICCI for holding this Forum in Egypt and also thanked the National Council for Development of Women and its Secretary General, Dr. Farkhanda Hasan for her kind presence.
Thereafter an Introductory Address and Message of H.E. Shaikh Saleh Bin Abdullah Kamel, President of Islamic Chamber of Commerce (ICCI) was presented by Mrs. Attiya Nawazish Ali, Assistant Secretary General of ICCI. She welcomed the participants on behalf of the ICCI President and evaluated the previous sessions of the forum which were positively contributing to the realization of one of the major objectives that is the development of entrepreneurship culture as well as the MDGs.
She informed the participants of the role and programmes of ICCI in promoting the private sector in the member OIC countries. She elaborated that the initiatives of the ICCI were geared to addressing the needs of the private sector and how best to address them. In this context, she mentioned the workshops, training programmes held on microfinance, value addition and development of SMEs.
She further elaborated on the projects being undertaken to alleviate poverty and build capacity. In this context, the projects being under taken for the private sector at large are being done by the private company under FORAS, financial arm of ICCI,which aims to explore business and investment opportunities in the OIC Member Countries and the Zakat Organization which primary deals with using Zakat to economicallyempower the needy.
She informed the participants about the OIC Business Information Network (OIC-BIN) initiative and its progress and the recent recognition of this as reflected in the partnership with Special Unit for South-South Cooperation of the UNDP, which considered the ICCI project as prototype for the implementation of the project of One Million Businesswoman On-Line (OMBOL). She called upon the participants to effectively contribute to this significant project which was basically established for their benefit and would maximize their possible gains by improving their networking, businesses and marketing opportunities and services.
This was then followed by a power-point presentation on the OIC-BIN.
Message of Islamic Development Bank Group (IDB) delivered by Ms. Farah Spencer, Head of Investment Banking/Advisory Service, Islamic Corporation for the Development of Private Sector (ICD-IDB).She said that currently women are imperative contributors to the industrial growth and development of every country worldwide. She further said that the IDB considers participation of women necessary for the fulfillment of the objectives of poverty alleviation and human development in its member countries. The IDB has been keen, since its establishment, to finance operations which have directly as well as indirectly benefited women. She also highlighted IDB’s achievements in this regard, which includes ICD’s SME Development & Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development, which allocates 50% of its resources to females in micro-finance, pro-poor projects and several vocational training programs. She also spoke of the IDB Women Advisory Panel, which was established since 2004, and its role as well as IDB’s prize for Women Contribution in Development.
Mr. John O. Kakonge, Senior Deputy Director of the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, UNDP delivered speech on behalf of Mr. Yiping Zhou, Director, UNDP’S Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, in which he praised the theme of the 5th Forum stating that we are less than five years away from the target date set for the accomplishment of the MDGs. He further emphasized on the significance of women training and education, since women stand as the backbone of the society. Moreover, the many challenges set by Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action still exist and that women are under-represented in decision making process of many countries.
He further included that currently, governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society, multilateral institutions and the private sector, all, continue to strive in varying degrees to have gender equality among the central objectives of their initiatives aimed at achieving the MDGS. And it is equally exciting to see innovative initiatives particularly from the private sector such as Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women Initiative, which recognizes the vital role that women play in society by investing in the education of underserved women around the world. He said that UNDP firmly believes that gender equality and women’s empowerment are human rights that lie at the heart of development and the achievement of the MDGs.
He also highlighted some of the success stories of Muslim women, who were recognized by the Special Unit of the UNDP. He reiterated the support of the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation to the ICCI Businesswomen Forums, which are considered as effective development modality that foster mutual learning and sharing of successful and replicable practices among businesswomen from countries of various regions of OIC countries.
Ambassador Ahmed A. Haddad, Director Economic Affairs, delivered the message of H.E. Professor Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu,Secretary General of Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), in which he praised the Government and People of the Arab Republic of Egypt for hosting the 5th Businesswomen Forum and thanked the First Lady of Egypt Mrs. Suzane Mubarak for kindly patronizing it. He further commended the role of the ICCI in contributing to the implementation of the OIC Ten Year Program of Action.
He said that women’s affairs receive particular care and are of great significance to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference out its conviction of the importance of women’s role and work in society. The OIC has dedicated a considerable share of its activities for the support and education of women and providing them with opportunities to contribute to decision making a long with men in a manner leading to their advancement and enabling them to assume their various responsibilities. The work of the OIC in this respect has proceeded from the recommendations of the Ten-Year Programme of Action (TYPOA) adopted by the 3rd Extraordinary Islamic Summit held in Makkah in December 2005, stressing the need to reinforce the laws aimed at advancing women status in Muslim communities in the economic, cultural, social and political domains, without any form of discrimination, exclusion and violence against women. The TYPOA calls for the development of a covenant on the rights of women in Islam and accords special attention to family being the basic unit of society.
He also underscored the consideration given by the OIC to the development of women and their role in the Muslim communities, by highlighting the paradigm shift in addressing their issues, which is manifested by the establishment of an” Organization for Women Development in Member States”, which is to be specialized OIC Organization and to be based in Cairo, whose statute will be adopted by the forthcoming Council of Foreign Ministers. He concluded by applauding the theme of the current forum.
H.E. Ambassador Ahmed Fatahallah, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of Arab Republic of Egypt in his speech welcomed the participants on behalf of the Egyptian Government and underlined the great significance that Egypt gives to the promotion of Women and its strong support to all their initiatives. He further emphasized on the importance of collaboration of both the public and private sectors.
He also applauded the vital role of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in realizing the global objectives, which reflects the determination of its Member Countries in facing the serious challenges, such as combating unemployment, eradicating poverty and strengthening the role of women and enabling them to play their due part in the sustainable development process and also highlighted the role of Egypt’s National Council for Women Development, in preserving women interests at the national level.
He concluded by stating that Egypt also takes active part in many of the international organizations that target women development and that shows Egypt cares for the development of Egyptian, Arab and Muslim women at the Muslim communities and the global level. He wished the event success.
Director Women and Gender Development, African Union Commission, Ms. Rita, delivered speech on behalf of the Chairman of the African Union Commission, she said the African Union have been involved and continue to be involved in promoting women cause and gender equality. African Union contributed immensely to the United Nations conference on women. The African Union unanimously approved 2010 – 2020 as the African Women Decade. She appreciated to launch jointly with the Islamic women, the First African Trade Exhibition.
She further said in the spirit of the decade the first theme focused on to promote women entrepreneurship, which is why the African Women Trade Exhibition was launched. She said the African women have potentials unleashed and efforts are being exerted to resolve certain issues that impede women development such as security, health problems, such as HIV aids, child mortality; education, science and technology, climate change, governance and women protection.
She concluded by expressing the pleasure of the African Union Commission to be among their Muslim Brothers and Sisters and to be part of this august gathering, underling the fact that considerable part of our continent is Islamic. She thanked the organizers wishing the Forum all the success.
Ambassador Nagla El Husseiny, Assistant Secretary General, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), made a speech on behalf of the COMCEC Secretariat, in which she thanked Egypt for hosting the event and congratulated the organizers for the successful arrangements of the Conference.
She said that COMESA pledged its commitment to the women in the COMESA treaty, and also in the general policy which was enforced by the COMESA authority. She said these policies acknowledged by the governments programs in the COMESA region, cannot have a decisive impact without full integration of women as they constitute more than 50% of the 400 million population of COMESA region.
She further stated that COMESA continues its cooperation with the various stake holders, especially the private sector, as building alliance and networks with all stake holders, is the way of ensuring achievement of the MDGs. She said COMESA, is committed to join hands with the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other organizations and through the COMESA institutions to address the private sector agenda including health problems. She concluded by thanking the organizers and wishing the event a success.
H.E. Dr. Farkhanda Hassan, Secretary General, National Council for Women, Arab Republic of Egypt, delivered her speech, in which she welcomed the participants and underlined the significance of the main theme that affects all the countries and communities at a time that witnesses massive changes in the economic systems, accompanied with social changes. She underlined the importance of women participation in the economic development, as they are half of the human resource of any country. She called for capacity building and enhancement of women skills, in such a manner that would contribute to the increase of production, as part of the efforts to enhance the national economies.
She stated that the National Council for Women, chaired by Egypt’s First Lady Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak implements projects and activities that are aimed to empower women and expand her opportunities to benefit from the positive effects and avoid the negative effects of the new economic system. She further said that the Council in less than four years, is associated with women owning small enterprises, but their number is increasing as well as their capital and we have web portal title http://www.ncwegypt.com. She requested for a link with ICCI’s OICBIN, so as to move from the national and regional to the international level, in this era of globalization.
She concluded by thanking the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry, under the leadership of Honorable Shaikh Saleh Kamel, for organizing this Forum. She also thanked Dr. Amany Asfour, Chairperson of the Egyptian Businesswomen Association (EBWA) for hosting it. She also extended thanks to all those who took part in the efforts that led to the convening of this significant gathering, aimed at mobilizing efforts of coordination and strengthening, which would make a tangible difference in lives.
The inaugural session was followed by an interactive session on the theme of “Global Empowerment of Businesswomen” The Moderator of this Session was Dr. Amany Asfour, President, Egyptian Businesswomen Association (EBWA) and the following also made brief remarks on the theme.
- Ambassador Nagla El Husseiny, Assistant Secretary General COMESA
- Amb. Melene Verveer, Ambassador at large for Global Women Issues of USA.
- Mr. John O. Kakonge, Senior Deputy Director of the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, UNDP, (and introduction on One Million Businesswomen Online (OMBOL))
Presentation of Papers:
After the inaugural and interactive session, five working sessions were held under specific themes, where the participants presented their papers and exchanged their views and experiences. Each session were followed by discussions and question / answers.
The 1stSession was held on the theme of “Role of Businesswomen in Sharing Experiences, Knowledge and best practices” and was chaired byMrs. Sonia Khanji Kachecho, President, Syrian Businesswomen Committee. Following participants made presentations:
- Begum Salma Ahmed, Founder President of Women Chamber of Commerce, Sindh (Pakistan) and Former Member of National Assembly of Pakistan.
- Ms. Cavidan Demirag, President, The Association of Enterprising Businesswomen, Turkey
- Ms. Seyedeh Fatemeh Moghimi, President Advisor to Women Entrepreneurs in Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines / Chairman of Businesswomen Council in
- Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines.
- Madam Badraoui Soraya, President, Association des Femmes Chefs d’Entreprises Maroc (AFEM), Morocco
- Dr. Zeinab Safar, Head of BusinessDevelopmentCenter, National Council of Women, Egypt
- The Role of Intercultural Communication in the Empowerment of Businesswomen in the Islamic World” by Dr. Rana Raddawi, Assistant Professor, Department of English, American University of Sharjah
The 2nd Session was held on the theme of “Role of International Institutions in empowering women in implementing the MDGs” and was chaired byMrs. Attiya Nawazish Ali, Assistant Secretary General, Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI). Following participants made presentations:
- Ms. Alaa Al-Dulaimy, Assistant Secretary General for Media & Information, Islamic Chamber (ICCI)
- IDB Group, Ms. Farah Spencer
- Mr. John O. Kakonge, Senior Deputy Director, Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SS-GATE), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
- Ms. Teresa Liu, Senior Program Manager, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
The 3rdSession was held on the theme of “Role of Microfinance Institutions in CapacityBuilding and alleviating poverty with special focus on SME run by women” and was chaired byEng. Widad Y. Ibrahim, President, Family Bank, Sudan. Following participants made presentations:
- Mrs. Sharifah Aminah Al-Khared, Member, Women Advisory Panel, IDB
- Mrs. Aneela Iftikhar, President, South Punjab Women Chamber of Commerce&Industry, Pakistan
- Ms. Leila Karami, President of the Administrative Board, Lebanese Business Women Association
- Ms. Lejla Sunagic, Gender Specialist, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Water Management, Bosnia
- Ms. Gihan Fahim, Microfinance Sector, Social Fund for Development – Egypt
The 4thSession was held on the theme of “Role of Businesswomen Associations & NGOs in empowering businesswomen in OIC Countries” and was chaired byDr. Omnia Fahmi, Vice-President, Egyptian Business Women Association. Following participants made presentations:
- Mrs. Selima Ahmad, President, Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry
- Dr. Najat Jumaan, Head, Businesswomen Committee, Federation of Yemen Chamber.
- Ms. Abdullaeva Nigora, Entrepreneur, Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Tajikistan
- Ms. Cisse Fatchima, President/Director General, Societe de Transformations Alimentaire Niger
- Ms. Maryam Mubeen Siddiqi, Trade Development Manager, Afghan Women’s Business Federation (AWBF)
There was an especial session at the end of the 2nd day, which was held under the title ofNetworking Session / B2B between Private Sector / Financial Institutions / International Organizations / Interactive Dialogue. This session was specially organized for enabling all the participants to interact amongst themselves and discuss specific business opportunities.
The closing session was held in the evening of 23rd April 2010.
Dr. Amany Asfour, President of the Egyptian Businesswomen Association, in her concluding remarks expressed her thanks and gratitude for the First Lady of Egypt for her kind Patronage and once again thanked the all the delegates, for their participation. She also thanked all those who contributed to the success of the Forum for their vigorous efforts.
Mrs. Attiya Nawazish Ali, Assistant Secretary General ICCI thanked the honorable speakers for their ample and substantial presentations and also applauded the valuable contributions of many delegates during the sessions, which enriched the deliberations. She also appreciated the excellent arrangements and all efforts exerted by EBWA for the success of the 5th Forum and acknowledged the contributions of all the other co-organizers in making the event a great success.
Thereafter, she presented the final communiqué of the Forum. The final communiqué highlighted the issues and obstacles being faced by the businesswomen and how to address them. The Forum provided excellent opportunities to businesswomen, in identifying the challenges, determining the areas which need support, building network among themselves, exchanging experiences and know-how, identifying new markets, and expanding the existing level of economic ties amongst their respective business communities through trade and investment.ICCI’s main focus is to address the challenges through organization of businesswomen forums; workshops on capacity building, micro-finance, SMEs, and value addition.
In the end, the organizers distributed souvenirs, plaques, mementos and certificates among the speakers and participants of the Forum.
On the last day of the programme, 24th April 2010, the participants were taken to the following:
(2) Library of Alexandria “Bibliotheca Alexandria”.