Global women's forum aims to promote inclusion

More than 100 speakers will address 3,000 attendees later this month

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Lamia Khan, CEO of Global Women's Forum Dubai 2020 at the Global Women's Forum Dubai 2020 press conference at the Government of Dubai Media Office.  Leslie Pableo for The National
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A series of high-profile speakers are set to inspire audiences at this year’s Global Women’s Forum Dubai.

Guests will include a pioneering female firefighter, world-leading scientists and experts from industry and banking.

The event, organised by the Dubai Women Establishment, aims to promote discussion on the role of women in government, business and society.

Its focus will centre on a theme of 'The Power of Influence' and the conference will be partnered by the International Monetary Fund.

We are showcasing inspirational women who have overcome challenges, inspired others and created an impact on their communities.

“We are showcasing inspirational women who have overcome challenges, inspired others and created an impact on their communities,” said Lamia Khan, chief executive of Global Women’s Forum Dubai.

“The UAE is a reference point for the region when it comes to gender balance.

“We have done a lot of research on why women leave work and one of the main reasons is not being able to have that work-life balance.

“The agenda of the forum explores how we can accelerate women’s inclusion across all levels and sectors, and the speakers joining us this year, who are renowned for their expertise in gender-friendly practices and discourse, are at the forefront of these discussions.”

Global Women’s Forum Dubai will take place over two days from February 16 at Madinat Jumeirah in the city.

The event is organised under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

Keynote speakers will include Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF as well as David Malpass, president of the World Bank.

Others guests will include Captain Brenda Berkman, a former firefighter from New York, Sheikha Mozah bint Marwan bin Mohammed bin Hasher Al Maktoum, the first female pilot from the UAE's royal family, Dr Rana Dajani, a molecular scientist, and Carla Harris, managing director at global financial services firm Morgan Stanley.

Shamsa Saleh, chief executive of Dubai Women Establishment, which works to encourage greater inclusion of women across government and private sectors, said the UAE’s Gender Balance Council - established in 2015 - had made significant inroads into improving work-life balance for women.

“We ensured reforms in labour law and discrimination law to prevent discrimination against women at the workplace and introduced an equal-wage policy,” she said.

“We changed the maternity leave policy from 45 days to three months [and] we issued a law on preventing women from being fired due to pregnancy because so many companies do that.”

More than 3,000 people from 87 countries are expected to attend the event.

Khawla Al Mehairi, a senior executive at the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, said the forum’s agenda was closely aligned with the company’s own efforts.

“Currently we have more than 1,900 female employees at DEWA, with around 646 Emirati female engineers working on the field,” said Ms Al Mehairi.

“This has changed since 2009. Before that, we only had around 300 female employees.

“The Forum’s agenda and theme are aligned with DEWA’s efforts to promote women’s participation in the development sectors, with a particular emphasis on the fields of energy and innovation.”