Dubai hosts first NRI summit on women| MENAFN.COM

Saturday, 26 November 2022 08:03 GMT

Dubai hosts first NRI summit on women


(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) The Indian diaspora in foreign countries should step-up and do more to help the female population of India, said Canada's first Sikh female politician Ruby Dhalla.

The prevalence of female infanticide, sex-selective abortion, honour killings, rape, domestic abuse and other crimes against women continue to be rampant globally, and in rural India.

Dhalla was speaking at the first International Women Empowerment Programme (IWEP) on Saturday and urged Indian expatriates living in the UAE to invest in empowering women in India.

"The maternal mortality in India is the 56th highest in the world. I notice that NRIs still tend to spend millions on real estate, fancy cars and luxury weddings in India. However, they do little to support the poor population. That needs to change," said Dhalla.

The Canadian politician said that NRIs could spend their money to build schools, adopt villages, or educate girl children, instead of spending millions on luxury weddings and homes. Dhalla, along with several other leading female advocates and speakers, discussed the issues that remained an obstacle for women in India and the UAE, in realising their potential.

Organised by Arushi Nishank, acclaimed Kathak dancer and entrepreneur, the programme kicked off with a yoga session for women. Later, a panel discussion titled, 'The World Women Convention', saw participation from women in politics, cinema, literature, healthcare, philanthropists and entrepreneurs.

Speakers also included Dr Yasmeen Shereef Ul Mulk, managing partner and director Global Hawk Imaging and Diagnostics; Dawn Metcalfe, managing director of PDSi; Bubbles Kandhari, social worker and co-founder of the Sikh gurudwara in Dubai; and Nouf Marwaai, Saudi Arabia's first yoga instructor.

Bollywood infleunce Speaking about Bollywood's influence on the growing female voice in India, film director Madhur Bhandarkar also spoke at the forum.

Bhandarkar said that Indian filmmakers are becoming more open to making movies with female protagonists. "There is a market for women-centric movies now, and that has happened after years of exposure and talking about the subject," he said.

Vandana Srivastava, a Dubai-based legal consultant, said: "The IWEP has been designed in such a way so that the participants can select the most critical issues women are facing and the deliberations can then be done by a set of experts."

Dr Yasmeen said: "Women's health takes a backseat in many countries across the world. In rural and slum areas across the world, women continue to be the last to have a decent meal, irrespective of the fact that she is pregnant.

"Women's healthcare needs to be made a priority. They should also have access to clean sanitation, to free sanitary napkins and be encouraged to speak out in the case of domestic violence," added Metcalfe.

Kandhari encouraged women in the UAE to speak up when they face discrimination. "Men also play an important role in empowering women. Mothers need to teach their sons to treat women with equal respect," she said.

The speakers at the one-day women's empowerment summit admitted that they were optimistic about the future, especially about women being given equal opportunities and progress towards closing the wage gap. The day-long programme ended with an award ceremony and talks by famous women personalities.

It was earlier reported that the outcome of the conference would be presented to the Indian Union Cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, to serve as suggestions for policy framework in future. However, the minister and a few others who were supposed to be part of the programme didn't show up.

Meet Saudi Arabia's first certified yoga instructor Yoga practitioner and clinical psychologist Nouf Marwaai's calm demeanour does not give a trace of her difficult past.

Before Marwaai became Saudi Arabia's first certified yoga instructor, she spent years battling a deadly autoimmune disorder. That happened to be only the first step in her life-long journey towards holistic wellness.

Speaking at the first International Women Empowerment Programme (IWEP) on Saturday at Mina A'Salam Jumeirah, Marwaai drew severe criticism from Saudi Arabia's conservative community and her extended family before she pursued a full-fledged career as a yoga therapist.

She said: "My father was extremely supportive. Even when my relatives criticised me heavily, my dad encouraged me to ignore them and pursue yoga."

Though she spent several years in allopathy and chemotherapy for her autoimmune disorder, yoga and natural treatment helped her illness much more. "Convincing a society to have a different concept about yoga was tough, but Saudi citizens are open to a healthy lifestyle," she added.

"Saudis didn't know anything about yoga, and once they realised it has nothing to do with religious practices, it gained more traction, especially in Jeddah. It just needs to be given a small commercial prospect to boost its reach here," she added.

India honours Marwaai She was awarded the awarded Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India, earlier this year.

Marwaai also established the Arab Yoga Foundation, the first official yoga organisation in the Gulf Region, in 2010. She is also the founder of the Saudi Arabia Yoga School 2008, the Yoga Alliance gulf 2009, the regional director of Yoga Alliance International in the Gulf Region 2009 and was the secretary of the International Yoga Federation in Arab countries and Saudi Arabia from 2010-2012.

In Jeddah, there are over 800 yoga practitioners today and yoga is also being increasingly practised in cities like Makkah, Riyadh and Madinah.

She added: "I explained the positive changes which yoga makes to your body, and the mental and physical benefits of yoga and this increased their interest in the practice."


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