As a part of the campaign “Release Your Thoughts with Your Pen”, strategic expert Dr. Buthaina Al-Ansari presented a new lecture on Thursday entitled “Empowering Women to Occupy Leadership Positions” to conclude a series of lectures presented by her in June and early July. All lectures were broadcasted on the Forum’s YouTube Channel.
Dr. Al-Ansari, at the beginning of the lecture, gave a historical overview of the beginning of the demand for the empowerment of women. She said that interest in the new concept and the role of women began in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Many international conferences were held, the most important of which was the First International Conference in Copenhagen in 1975. The conference was considered as a call to activate the role of women. This was followed by the Second International Conference in 1985 to
achieve gender equality in society to participate in boosting economies. These conferences resulted in many recommendations and directives which crystalized into the Fourth International Conference on Women in Beijing in 1985. Then, the stage of activating decisions and recommendations began in the exceptional session held in the UN General Assembly, followed by the Economic Conference held in 2011, during which the gender gap was highlighted, many related issues were raised, and many decisions were taken to solve the problem in various countries.
As for Arab countries, this topic began to be raised in the last two decades in conjunction with technological developments. The role of women in the development of society was raised through their participation in the Labour Market, especially that they have participations in the fields of sustainable development and charitable and voluntary humanitarian fields, which makes them ready to enter the arena of politics. She indicated that the emergence of oil and gas in the Arab countries has a major role in supporting the ambition of women to participate in public life.
She considered that Qatar Vision 2030 has a significant role in ensuring the empowerment of Qatari women, as it has taken significant strides in the economic, social and political renaissance. Many Qatari women hold prominent positions in health, foreign affairs and the Shura Council and their participation in various sectors has reached 30% as indicated by reports issued by the Planning and Monitoring Agency in 2019.
The strategic expert cited a study conducted in 1986 that included 250,000 executive directors and was repeated in 2007and then in 2014. From that study, several recommendations were drawn and a set of characteristics that the leader should possess were identified. The first of these is credibility in words and deeds. The second characteristic is the aspiration to the future and a clear vision. The third is that a leader should be a source of encouragement and inspiration for his/her work team. The fourth characteristic is competence and awareness of work. The final characteristic is intelligence when taking decisions and finding smart solutions in exceptional circumstances. She indicated that there are special characteristics that distinguish women from men, which are flexibility and the allowing the participation of various parties in decision-making. Women are not rigid but creative and innovative in addition to their ability to understand the work team. She emphasized the necessity of the art of public speaking and persuasion for a woman leader. These characteristics are discussed by leading researchers of human development, such as Tariq Al-Suwaidan, who explained that women were late in entering public life and that they should join the ranks of developed countries, especially with the openness to the world thanks to technology and modern techniques through the mentioned conditions and specifications. The prominent factors that help women assume leadership positions are the existence of societal awareness of the need to empower women and enable them to assume leadership positions and provide social support from schools and societies, especially the family, to form a leadership personality capable of assuming leadership positions. Obstacles limiting women empowerment to assume positions were identified according to studies conducted in 2013, which proved that 65% of the obstacles are related to the social environment, as decision makers do not encourage women to reach some positions. Also, some countries legislations do not do justice to women nor help them to participate side by side with men in decision-making. Some religious beliefs as well are part of this and are known as the glass barrier covered in many research and studies in this field.
In contrast to these basic and main obstacles, there are several secondary obstacles, especially in institutions and companies, such as the policy of nominations and promotions that gives preference to men, in addition to that women do not recommend women’s workshops and trainings that enable them to get promoted to a higher degree at work. The third challenge is the woman herself who chooses to work in simple jobs in order to be able to create a balance between work and family requirements. The questionnaire proved that officials do not believe in women’s abilities to assume leadership positions. She explained that the exclusion of women from leadership positions until the last millennium was not restricted to Arab and developing countries. Even in the United States of America, which is considered a leader in progress and a leading country in empowering women, women in leadership positions was absent until 1999. Considering that, the percentage of women’s empowerment in Arab countries, and in Qatar specifically, is promising and reveals the state’s role to include women in various fields. At the end of the lecture,
Dr. Al-Ansari presented a set of recommendations to increase the empowerment of women to assume leadership positions, which are strong intention, will and determination of women to overcome all challenges and not to give up. She encouraged women to self-assess themselves, to acquire new skills every day and to make good use of time for self-development, developing plans and future visions “Where am I today? What do I intend to achieve during the next ten years?”