Business women and politicians from the Middle East and Europe have gathered in Paris for a conference held by the Arab International Women’s Forum (AIWF).
The organisers said in the current difficult business climate women in the Arab world and the west need to work together more closely and push for more economic opportunities in Arab countries. AIWF’s chairwoman, Hayfa Fahoum Al Kaylani, said: “We’re concentrating on the role of women in the Arab world in creating economic progress. We’re putting a lot of effort into that, because if the economy and women in those Arab countries don’t progress, then there will never be stability in those countries.” Right now, it is not easy for Arab woman to play a major role in their countries’ economic development, but as Italian politician and conference participant Emma Bonino pointed out: “It varies from country to country, not all of the countries are the same, there are differences. The countries in the Gulf for example, do not yet have equal right for women, but you find women who for historical or for family reasons, for whatever reasons have very important roles in business or even politics.” Currently only about a third of Arab woman are in the workforce even though many are highly educated. For example: in the United Arab Emirates more than three quarters of woman attend university but 70 percent are unemployed.