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
“I don’t want you to lower your expectation, but I want you to lower your self-criticism.” – Helena Zimmerdahl from the Embassy of SwedenWomen’s Empowerment Program (WEP) is in its full swing! As a part of BKMC’s Women’s Empowerment Program, WEP GCC fellows participated in a Round Table hosted in Diplomatic Academy of Vienna on November 19. At this Round Table, Susanne Keppler-Schlesinger, Deputy Director of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, featured as a moderator at the Round Table. Speakers were: Lulua Asaad from UNODC, Maggie Childs from Metropole and Austrian Startups, Mona Ali Khalil from MAK Law International, and Helena Zimmerdahl from the Embassy of Sweden to Austria. Lulua Asaad asked the fellows a critical question: “What does leadership mean to you?”
She also added that leadership is not about a position one is in, but responsibility leaders are capable of taking in their world. Regarding women’s empowerment, Mona Ali Khalil said,
“It is important to have support from women within your network, while not neglecting the role of men.”
As an international lawyer, she stressed that gender parity policies should be actual actions rather than lip service and should effectively address sexual harassment/sexual discrimination issues that still exist everywhere across the sectors. Minister-Counselor Helena Zimmerdahl pinpointed ‘transparency’ as an important trait of a good leader and said we must “speak up” for ourselves to make our voices heard. Zimmerdahl also advised the fellows to
“Empowerment of women requires men who are enlightened and women who are willing empower each other.”
Maggie Childs emphasized the need for getting help from mentors, friends and other experts when necessary and said,
“look at yourself and your accomplishments from the outside” in order to empower themselves.
A follow-up workshop was facilitated by WEP Project Coordinator Viola Christian from the Ban Ki-moon Centre. The fellows were grouped into 5 and discussed advice and points made from the Round Table, which they created their own manifesto with. © BKMC / Eugenie Berger For more photos of the event, visit BKMC album.
“You don’t have to know everything before you do it… It is lonely at the top. You need to have your private space and friends who just listen to you. Having those friends would make you feel less lonely.”
“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!
- Lulua Asaad, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer at UNODC
- Selma Prodanovic, CEO and Founder of 1MillionStartups
- Vera Strobachova Budway, Senior Coordination Advisor, Gender Section, OSCE
- Helena Zimmerdahl, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Sweden in Vienna
“What is a good/bad leader?” “How can we make men with closed mind listen to us?” “How can we overcome the challenges we are facing?”Prodanovic said that the WEP Asia fellows have already achieved so much and that it is important for them to reflect on what they have done to succeed and think about how to further amplify the efforts.
She said, “the fact that you ladies are here shows that you are among the top 1% that cares about women’s empowerment” and encouraged the group to “follow your inner voice, and do the right thing!”Budway shared her motto and encouraged the aspiring young women leaders to be “open for new challenges.“ She said that one can become an expert in anything that she desires and is passionate about.
“Take risks; don’t be afraid. Step out of your comfort zone!”Zimmerdahl also reminded the young fellows that they don’t have to be good at everything. She continued, “Go easy on yourself. You are very capable but do not have to do it all” and encouraged the individuals to create their exit strategy and work on it.
“Even if you have chosen a path, if it does not make you feel comfortable, don’t be afraid to change this path.”Asaad said, “leadership is not only about leading but having an impact on society and on the people around us.” She also stressed that “leadership is also about being authentic and being true to oneself.”
She then added that “the network that we have as women and with women is so important as we are essential in promoting each other” but that “Gender equality is a responsibility for everyone: boys, men, girls, and women.”In consequence of the round table, Froehler moderated a workshop during which the WEP Asia fellows came up with their own list of the most important elements for being a good woman leader. The group created a manifesto that consists of total 16 elements with which they will further develop their leadership skills and continue to make changes:
- Let me be wrong in my way!
- Lower your expectations.
- Be vulnerable; Embrace yourself.
- Dare to delegate.
- Ask for help when needed.
- Make small steps and celebrate small successes.
- Change is not easy, but it was your choice.
- Amplify; Speak for yourself.
- Raise your voice even ignored or interrupted.
- Amplify the voice of another woman.
- Teach boys and men about gender equality.
- Share inspirational stories about other women in other communities.
- Read a book that inspires you.
- Share what you find inspiring.
- Find a mentor and a supporting system.
- Get out of your comfort zone.
“the Austrian Empress Maria Theresia, a great female leader herself, founded the Diplomatic Academy in 1754. She would be proud to see that today we are launching the Ban Ki-moon Centre’s Women’s Empowerment Program in the very institution that she built.”The program will offer a unique opportunity to advance young international female global citizens’ potential to promote the Sustainable Development Goals and foster women’s empowerment in their countries of origin by training their communication skills, crisis management and mediation competencies at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna.
“We received hundreds of impressive applications in the past months. You are the 20 Global Citizen Fellows that we have selected, and it is beautiful to see you gathered here today, already building international friendships and a network of change makers,” said the organizer of the program Viola Christian.This fellowship training program will offer an environment in which young women can refine their ability to make sustainable change and grow their networks to become the leaders of tomorrow.
“In these two weeks,” said BKMC CEO Monika Froehler to the fellows, “you will further develop your skill-set to make sustainable development happen and to empower women globally.”The fellows had the time to introduce themselves to each other and share their innovative ideas and initiatives to contribute to the sustainable development in our shared society. Watch the video update of the WEP Asia on Day 1: Learn more about WEP Asia: https://bankimooncentre.org/projects/wep