Speech by Adnan Shihab-Eldin
Director-General of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences
Women’s Empowerment Program – GCC Closing Ceremony
November 22, 2019
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, and colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of HE Ambassador Marafi and my esteemed colleagues from the Permanent Mission of the State of Kuwait in Vienna, and KFAS, it gives me great pleasure to be among you to welcome you to this award ceremony of the 1st “WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT PROGRAM GCC” a Tailor-Made Fellowship Training for Female Global Citizen Leaders,” organised by the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens (BKMC) and The Diplomatische Akademie Wien – Vienna School of International Studies. KFAS is pleased to be supporting this program as it is initiatives such as these that are at the core of ensuring that we continue to empower the Kuwaiti society, and the region at large, to leverage the innovative talents of its women, and to unlock their true potential for the future advancement of the country and its people. For only then, will we truly be able to realize social and economic prosperity? As His Excellency, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, once stated at the High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment in 2016, “If the world is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we need a quantum leap in women’s economic empowerment.”
For the past 43 years, in line with the long-term vision of its founders the late Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, and the leaders in the private sector, the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) has been on a journey to harness science, technology and innovation in Kuwait, and catalyse their applications to promote modernization, a better quality of life and a sustainable future for the Kuwaiti people. Today, KFAS continues to benefit from the generous contributions of the Kuwaiti shareholding companies to support its programs, under the inspiring leadership and guidance of His Highness the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah, the Chairman of the KFAS Board of Directors.
Within its current strategy, the Foundation has renewed its commitment to play a leading catalytic role in supporting the national efforts to transform the country from a rentier state to a knowledge-driven economy, as well as serving the national goals envisioned in the New Kuwait-2035 Vision.
Currently, KFAS’s programs are organised in three main strategic thrust areas, focused on supporting the advocacy of science culture, the enabling capacity for innovation of its youth, and ensuring that science, technology, and innovation (STI) play a vital role within every aspect of Kuwait’s society, including the research community, the private and public sectors, and non-governmental organizations. This has also involved supporting partnerships with regional and international centres of excellence and establishing and funding specialized centres of excellence, tasked with addressing specific high priority national challenges, such as diabetes, through research, nurturing the talent of its youth, delivering the education of STEM for the IV industrial revolutions, amongst others.
As part of our current strategic objectives, KFAS programs have involved developing initiatives and implementing activities to help close the gender gap in Kuwait, aspiring to become a role model for the region. For decades KFAS has supported the efforts of inclusion of women in STEM and celebrated their achievements, to inspire the next generation of women scientists and highlight the importance of STEM education. In 2017, for example, in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and others, KFAS hosted the International Conference on Women Leaders in Science, Technology, and Engineering,
Following that Conference, KFAS has established an ongoing collaboration with the National Academy of Sciences in the US, in the form of a Workshop Series for the inclusion of women in STEM in Kuwait and the US. The first was launched this October, which discussed the challenges and barriers facing women to enter and thrive in the science, engineering, and medical professions in both countries. The goal from such collaboration, similar to this program is to provide young and dedicated women, who strive to be future leaders with the essential skills, needed to achieve their aspirations and to foster women’s empowerment.
Every single one of you here today has been selected because of your demonstrated potential, accomplishments and passion for participating in, and leadership for change. Your experiences and expertise to date, have no doubt served your communities well. We trust that through this program, you were able to further your skills and knowledge, and connect with other like-minded, ambitious women, to empower your aspirations and help in accelerating the progress needed in your own societies, as well as the regional and international community as a whole.
Thank you all again for being here today. Again, on behalf of my esteemed colleagues from the Kuwait mission and KFAS, my congratulations to all the young women who have participated in this program. I look forward to hearing of your continued success. We and the future generations are relying on you to make the difference needed.
Finally, allow me to extend my gratitude and thanks to the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens (BKMC) and The Diplomatische Akademie Wien – Vienna School of International Studies for organizing this event and I look forward to future opportunities for collaboration on activities of mutual interest. I must not forget to extend my sincere thanks and deep appreciation to Ms. Monika Froehler and her team at the Centre, for the excellent organisation, and to HE Ambassador Marafi and his team at the Kuwait Mission in Vienna for their enthusiastic support and encouragement for this initiative.