'Women are breaking stereotypes'

Slowly, Arab women have been breaking the 'stereotypes' of them as being housewives.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - December 10 2012 - Haifa Kaylani, Founder & Chairman of the Arab International Women's Forum speaks to The National on the employability of women in the Arab world. AIWF hosted a conference on 'Young Arab Women Leaders" at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce. (Razan Alzayani / The National)
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It has been dubbed the century of the woman, with more and more Arab women taking up careers traditionally dominated by men.

"There are Arab women in shipping, oil, construction, law ... in every possible field you can think of," said Haifa Al Kaylani, founder and chairman of the Arab International Women's Forum. For decades, as a senior member on several international boards dedicated to women and business, Mrs Al Kaylani has helped Arab women in various fields reach their potential by linking them with their international counterparts, government entities, businesses and media and civil societies.

Mrs Al Kaylani has witnessed great changes in the region the past decade, with women entrepreneurs creating their own niches, many of which grew into big businesses.

Slowly, Arab women have been breaking the "stereotypes" of them as being merely housewives.

"The world has realised that an Arab woman is a force to be reckoned with, to be taken seriously and to be trusted with senior positions. We have powerful Arab women in top positions in government and business," said Mrs Al Kaylani, who headed a conference in Dubai this month for young Arab women that included workshops and mentoring.

Last week, the UAE Cabinet made it compulsory for corporations and government agencies to include women on their boards of directors.

"Arab women have proven themselves and will continue to grow," she said. "There is no limit to what an Arab woman can do."

* Rym Ghazal