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, 2019Excellencies, 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.
“Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences will remain as a partner for the SDGs.”Lastly, the Ban Ki-moon Centre CEO Monika Froehler said,
“Never say what you cannot do, say what you can do and will do.”She also thanked BKMC Program Officer Viola Christian for her endeavors and efforts to put together this amazing program. On behalf of all the WEP GCC fellows, Nourah Aloseimi from Kuwait delivered remarks and expressed gratitude for such inspiring and meaningful opportunities the Ban Ki-moon Centre has provided together with Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. Before the graduation, the WEP GCC fellows presented about their My SDG Micro-Project proposals, which they will implement in their own communities after the completion of their trainings. Visit BKMC gallery for more photos. © BKMC / Eugenie Berger
“More than ever does the world need young female leaders like yourself to advocate for a sustainable future with a fresh and innovative mind,” said Co-chair Ban Ki-moon in his video message.Together with the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens hosted a welcome reception for the fellows of the Women’s Empowerment Program GCC on November 11th, 2019.
Co-chair Heinz Fischer warmly welcomed the crowd and briefly introduced the history of Austria as a former President of Austria, and BKMC CEO Monika Froehler and Deputy Director Susanne Keppler-Schlesinger of the Diplomatic Academy also delivered remarks on the first day of the program.
“You will shine, and you will empower others to shine with you!” – CEO Monika Froehler
“In these two weeks, you will further develop your skill-set to make sustainable development happen and to empower women globally,” said Monika Froehler during her welcome remarks.H.E. Ambassador Marafi from the Embassy of Kuwait participated in the welcome reception to welcome and congratulate all the selected fellows from GCC regions. 20 aspiring fellows of WEP GCC gathered from Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. They will be participating in a 2-week tailor-made program to advance their global potential to promote the Sustainable Development Goals and foster women’s empowerment. Watch a video diary of WEP GCC’s first day!
“Children are the single most vulnerable group in conflict-affected areas. Without adequate safety, justice and support they fall victim to the abuses of war, which destroys a society’s chance of recovery by eroding the social cohesion of a future generation.”Director of Corporate Responsibility of RELX Group, Dr. Márcia Balisciano, moderated a session “International Young Scholars’ Perspectives: Spotlight on National Initiatives for the SDGs I” where speakers discussed various topics covered by the papers that the scholars have submitted. Senior professionals and experts in the relevant field exchanged their insights and knowledge with the young scholars and the audience. An award ceremony followed the session where the winners of the selected papers received awards. For the “Youth as Partners to Achieve the SDGs” session moderated by Sam Okyere, a TV host in Korea, Co-founder and Vice President Michael Sheldrick of Global Citizen participated as an advisor to the youth presenters who presented their innovative ideas and project plans for advancing the SDGs. Sheldrick did not only mentor the students, giving them his insights on their projects, but also introduced existing mentoring programs and potential partners they could approach to further develop their projects. This youth session introduced various student-led initiatives such as the Environmental Group “Yongreen,” “YeS” that works to free the world from urban waste, “Rhythm of Hope” for rescuing patients for disaster medical cost, “Education for Democratic Citizenship,” Medical Volunteering Club “Uichung,” and “YMDU” that aims to reduce inequality through Yonsei Hope Expedition.
Symposium on “Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship”
Hosted by the Ministry of Planning and the MOFA 12th of February, 09:00 – 13:45 Location: Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre, KuwaitDear Co-chair President Heinz Fischer, Your Excellency Mariam Al Aqeel, Minister of State for Economic Affairs, Your Excellency Khaled Mahdi, Secretary General of the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, Your Excellency Ambassador Sadiq Marafi, Your Excellencies Ambassadors, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Salam Alaikum! First, I would like to thank the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for organizing today’s “Symposium on Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship”. The title of this event truly embraces the fundamental vision and mission of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens. The Ban Ki-moon Centre was founded one year ago as a quasi-international organization, dedicated to the empowerment of women and youth to strive as global citizens. Since then, it has been actively engaging with numerous partners and has gained the support of committed stakeholders and entities who all seek to make this world a better place for all. Upon the generous invitation of the State of Kuwait, the Centre is currently holding its third Board Meeting in this beautiful country. Our Board is very thankful to receive the opportunity to gather here and chart the course of this young and thriving organization. The past days have been filled with productive and intensive talks about the Centre’s achievements and about what lies ahead in 2019 and beyond. We have had the unique chance to meet with the most respected leaders of this country and discuss further opportunities of cooperation between the Ban Ki-moon Centre and the State of Kuwait. Furthermore, it has been a wonderful experience to dive into Kuwait’s extraordinary culture, traditions and heritage. Ladies and Gentlemen, The work of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. Their implementation is necessary to empower women and the youth to live in a world, in which all people can thrive as global citizens. The 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals is one of the UN’s most significant achievements. It builds on the Millennium Development Goals and provides humanity, and our planet, with a collaborative blueprint to ensure the future we want. Adopted by 193 countries in New York in September 2015, the SDGs offer us a way forward to confront the most critical issues of our time. These include poverty, education, inequality, climate change, public health, and gender equality. Sustainability means ensuring prosperity and environmental protection without compromising future generations and our planet. And it means that women and girls are afforded equal rights and equal opportunities. Half the world are women and half the world are under the age of 25. To achieve sustainable development, it requires the active participation of us all, especially of women and youth, those whose futures most depend on the realization of the goals. During my time as UN Secretary-General I understood that young people and women are absolutely essential to solving so many of the world’s biggest challenges. Indeed, without the engagement of women and youth, we will not succeed. That is why in 2010, I established UN Women and in 2013, I appointed first ever UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi who is now a member of the Ban Ki-moon Centre. So we must do more to engage and empower these two groups as they are the enablers to achieve sustainable development. By doing so, we can help unlock their unbridled potential as the agents of change and dynamic global citizens of tomorrow. Ladies and Gentlemen, We have taken significant leaps forward in the field of global development in recent years. The international community, guided by the United Nations Millenium Goals and Sustainable Development Goals, has undoubtedly improved human welfare around the world. Extreme poverty rates were cut by half in 2010. This represents over 1 billion people and is truly an incredible achievement. During this period, the under-five mortality rate has been halved and rates of maternal deaths have been reduced by 45 percent. And since 1990, 2.1 billion people have benefited from access to improved sanitation and over 2.6 billion people now have improved sources of water. But there is still much work to be done. Nearly 10 percent of the world’s workers and their families still live on less than $1.90 a day. Over 6 million children perish each year before they reach their fifth birthday. And 663 million people remain without drinking water. This figure is in danger of worsening as a result of climate change-accelerated droughts. Inequality is also growing, both between and within nations. Since 2000, 50 percent of the increase in global wealth has only benefitted the top 1% of the world’s population. Even more jarring, a recent report indicated that just 42 rich individuals hold as much wealth as the 3.7 billion people who comprise the poorest 50% of the global population. Challenges to the post-Second World War international order and our multilateral institutions are being felt in a variety of spheres. Our world is going through pronounced changes and this is resulting in elevated uncertainties and new risks. Tariffs and protectionism are threatening free trade, conflicts between the US and its traditional allies such as Canada are growing, and US trade wars with China and the EU are expanding. Human rights are under threat as nationalism and xenophobia spreads. Development and humanitarian funds are being slashed. Our climate is changing, and this is bringing dire risks to our ailing planet. At the same time, new technologies are altering how we communicate, live, and work. Sweeping advances in the fields of AI, blockchain, biotechnology, and robotics will alter the future of our countries, cities, businesses, and interpersonal relationships. Under this backdrop of waning internationalism and dizzying change, we must continue to work together through expanded partnerships and cooperation. We must also forge ahead through a driving commitment to global citizenship to help cope with these seemingly insurmountable challenges. At the same time we must acknowledge the progress that we have made in key areas and I am confident that we also have invaluable opportunities to change the world for the better. Much of this progress is grounded in the power of partnerships and cooperation to achieve our development goals. And much of this hope is driven by my belief in education, youth empowerment, and action. Young people are such a crucial part of the ultimate success of the United Nation’s efforts to ensure a more peaceful and sustainable world. Ladies and Gentlemen, The 2030 Agenda promises to leave no one behind – and help the furthest behind first. In a decade as Secretary-General, I have seen what is possible when we work together. The United Nations, governments and the private sector are collaborating more, with important results. We will need to activate business as never before, and quickly. We need to spread the word far and wide that every business has a responsibility to improve our world. Nearly every UN entity is partnering with companies to advance common objectives, from disaster relief and sanitation, to women’s empowerment and education. This is why the third Session of today’s symposium about “The Role and Efforts of the Private Sector in Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development” is absolutely essential. I am looking forward to listening to the insights of Kuwait’s experts in this regard. We have learned that the SDGs point the way toward the business activities and markets of the future. Now is the time to mobilize the global business community as never before. The case is clear. Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals will improve the environment for doing good business and building markets. Trillions of dollars in public and private funds are to be redirected towards the SDGs, creating huge opportunities for responsible companies to deliver solutions. The SDGs are unprecedented in their ambition – but the fundamental ways that business can contribute remain unchanged. Companies need to do business responsibly and then pursue new opportunities. In short, companies must not make our world’s problems worse before they try to make them better. Ladies and Gentlemen, Global citizenship is an important concept that can serve as a unique tool to help solve some of our most pressing challenges and assist us in reaching our global goals. Global citizens are those who identify themselves not as a member of a nation, but instead, as a member of humanity more largely. They are understanding and tolerant of other people and cultures. They fight for the protection of our planet and human rights. They are committed to service and helping others. They build bridges rather than construct walls. They look beyond the narrow prism of national and personal interests and work for a better world. And to establish long-term solutions, we need inclusive and participatory action from young global citizens as an essential ingredient to leverage the great potential of partnerships that I spoke of earlier. Let us act as Global Citizens. Let us look beyond national borders and empower each other to thrive in a peaceful and prosperous world. For the first time in history we can end poverty, for the first time in history we are all interconnected and have the knowledge of humankind at our fingertips. We have more tools at hand than ever before. Particularly the young need to be given the right opportunities to build “their tomorrow.” Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Moving forward, to have a more secure world, we must base our growth on sustainability and equality. The foundation must be human rights and, as we continue to grow, we must remain resilient and open to change. We all have the power as global citizens to be a part of insuring the sustainable development and progress of our communities, countries, and world. The SDGs are the pathway for our future and the roadmap for our continued success as human beings. This Symposium is a platform for exchanging views, listening, and understanding opinions and the positions of others. This can lead to new ideas and the birth of new initiatives, collaborations, and successes. Please allow me to conclude my remarks by saying that despite the challenges we currently face, if we join together in strong partnerships and move forward as global citizens, we can achieve our global goals and create a brighter future for all. Shukran. Thank you.
“Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals will improve the environment for doing good business and building markets. Trillions of dollars in public and private funds are to be redirected towards the SDGs, creating huge opportunities for responsible companies to deliver solutions,” said Ban.
“Despite the challenges we currently face,” he concluded “if we join together in strong partnerships and move forward as global citizens, we can achieve our global goals and create a brighter future for all.”Co-chair Fischer stressed that women’s empowerment
“must also be regarded as a global issue and put into the bigger picture. It is a key to peace, to eliminating all forms of violence, and to enabling families, communities, and nations to thrive.”He also shared the deepest appreciation to the Centre’s Board member, Ambassador Sadiq Marafi, praising his commitment to supporting the Centre from the beginning and to all his collaborative initiatives to foster women’s empowerment.
Fischer added, “we are looking forward to intensifying our work with Kuwait and in particular with the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait and to identifying further opportunities for cooperation.”The 1st session of the symposium was entitled “Empowering Women,” featuring women leaders and representatives from both public and civil sector. BKMC Board members Irina Bokova, former UNESCO Director-General, and Andrea Pfanzelter, KACIID Senior Advisor, were featured as panelists of the session. For the 2nd session entitled “Youth Role in Development and Citizenship,” representatives of a specialized center in supporting youth development in Kuwait and from the civil society, a graduate student from Kuwait University, as well as BKMC Board members were featured. The featured Board members of the Centre included Jean Todt, FIA President, Ahmad Alhendawi, Secretary-General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, and Michael Sheldrick, Global Citizen Vice President. The last session entitled “Role and Efforts of Private Sector in Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development” featured representatives from Zain Telecommunication, Kuwait National Bank, and private sector.
Symposium on “Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship”
Hosted by the Ministry of Planning and the MOFA 12th of February, 09:00 – 13:45 Location: Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre, KuwaitDear Ban Ki-moon, Your Excellency Mariam Al-Aqeel, Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, Your Excellency Khaled Mahdi, Secretary-General of the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, Your Excellency Ambassador Sadiq Marafi, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, First of all, I want to say that it is a great pleasure and honour for the delegation of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens to be here in this wonderful country and to participate in the Symposium on “Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship”. My first intensive contact to Kuwait was in 1981 when I accompanied Federal Chancellor Bruno Kreisky on his State visit to Kuwait. I was able to visit Kuwait for a state visit exactly ten years ago, in February 2009, when I learned to appreciate the great hospitality from His Royal Highnesses Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. I took away great memories from this visit. Today’s Symposium about Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship clearly underscores the vision of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens. Our work at the Centre seeks to empower women and youth to strive as global citizens in a peaceful and prosperous world. This work cannot be done without a dedicated Board that serves as the backbone of our organization and of course our partners, such as the State of Kuwait, who support us and contribute to the resources that we need to be successful. Leadership, mediation, advocacy, education, and also compassion are cornerstones and mechanisms that we have identified to be most valuable in the implementation of our goals. Ladies and Gentlemen, Women represent 50% of the population globally. Nevertheless, the history of civilization is coined by the discrimination of women in various cultures and eras. Women’s rights have been infringed and the burdens of life have been lying much heavier on women’s shoulders than on men’s. In the 18th century, during the period of Enlightenment, Europe finally started to have serious discussions about women’s rights and equality. The idea of universal fundamental and human rights based on human dignity and to be granted regardless of origin, race, sex or religion etc. was introduced to politics and incorporated in the goals of progressive movements and in the texts of modern constitutions. Documents of the French Revolution and the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America did pioneer work in that regard. The 20th century was characterized by movements towards the political equality of human beings. In 1918 and 1919 Germany, Austria and other European countries introduced women’s active and passive right to vote. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Human Rights Declaration of the United Nations was passed in 1948 and the European Human Rights Convention followed five years later in 1953. In the last 50 years the question of equal rights for women and men is less a legal question, but a question of practice and reality. More and more legal regulations in politics, economy and society seek to decrease the gap between theoretical equality and practical discrimination of women. A central initiative for that purpose are the Sustainable Development Goals, especially with Goal 5 for Gender Equality. Global initiatives against the discrimination of women and for women’s empowerment bring people together to raise awareness. Ladies and Gentlemen, History shows that we have come a long way. We achieved a lot but there remains a lot that is to be done. It is estimated that an alarming 1 in 3 women globally will suffer from violence during their lifetime. Violence against women continues to persist and to pose an extreme obstacle to their ability to live in dignity and to their general well-being. In the political sphere, female heads of states or heads of government are somewhat present but continue to be a very rare minority. We need more women in parliaments and as political leaders because politics concerns women as much as it concerns men. To achieve full gender equality in our societies, politics must serve as an example: women belong in leadership positions because we cannot afford to forget the skills and competencies of the female half of our populations. The economy also demonstrates various aspects in which women are disadvantaged. In Europe, for instance, women’s salaries are up to one third less than men’s salaries. This must be adjusted and rectified. Fairness and equality mean that women’s work is valued just as much as men’s work. Europe has made major progress in the field of education. In the 50s, while I was studying, the percentage of female students was 20%. Then, in the 80s, when I served as the Austrian Minister for Science and Research, more than a third of all students were female. Today, in Austria, women make up over 50% of all students and this also goes for many other European States. Men have a clear advantage over women when it comes to university professor positions, showing the obstacles that women face to access leadership positions. Women’s empowerment must also be regarded as a global issue and put into the bigger picture. It is a key to peace, to eliminating all forms of violence, and to enable families, communities, and nations to thrive Today, it is particularly interesting to us that we shed light on the advancement of women’s empowerment in the State of Kuwait. Preparing for this visit, I learned that when it comes to women’s empowerment in the region of the Gulf states and even the whole Middle East, Kuwait has an indeed pioneering role. Women in Kuwait are amongst the most emancipated in the whole region. Especially the last 50 years brought significant change for women in Kuwait. Women’s political rights are increasingly respected, giving us hope that we are on the right path. The General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development of Kuwait is the entity in charge of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and thus, also of Goal Number 5. Under the directorship of Khaled A. Mahdi, the Secretariat has been keen on implementing the Global Goals. Today’s Symposium on Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship reflects this commendable ambition and gives us the chance to discuss the steps that have been done already to make this world a more peaceful and prosperous place for all. Thanks to you and your Secretariat, experts from around the world are gathered here today to exchange ideas and concrete action plans to implement the SDGs and promote the concept of Global Citizenship. My deep appreciation also goes to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait H.E. Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled Al Ahmad Al Sabah who are generously hosting today’s third Board Meeting of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens. Our good friend, his Excellency Ambassador Sadiq Marafi has been a committed and generous Board member of the Ban Ki-moon Centre right from the very beginning and is a great partner for all initiatives to foster women’s empowerment. We are very grateful for your support. We are looking forward to intensifying our work with Kuwait and in particular with the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait and to identifying further opportunities for cooperation. Let us unite our efforts to reach the great and important goal, namely equal rights and chances for men and women globally in our present world. Thank you very much.
Co-chair Ban Ki-moon said that the “economic development is not possible without addressing the issues of climate change, etc.,” and added that a “scholarship is needed for youth in Arab region.”Co-chair Heinz Fischer added that there is Erasmus scholarship program funded by the European Union that can be adopted in the Arab region.