(MENAFN - Arab Times) A group photo of the leaders and speakers at the Women's Empowerment Principles Conference – Kuwait
KUWAIT CITY, April 21:
Shaikha Al-Bahar, Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer at the National Bank of
Kuwait, participated as a keynote speaker at the 'Women's Empowerment
Principles Conference – Kuwait' held
yesterday by the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and
Development (GSSCPD), Kuwait University Women's Studies and Research Center (WSRC),
and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Al-Bahar participated alongside
an affluent group of leaders and decision makers including: Mariam Al-Aqeal
Minister of State for Economic Affairs, Lubna Al-Kazi Head of WRSC Kuwait
University, and Khaled Mahdi Secretary-General of the General Secretariat of
the Supreme Council.
her speech at the conference held this year under the theme 'Translating
Principles into Practices', Al-Bahar talked about how the Kuwaiti women's
leadership in the business sector has been declining, as she discussed the main
reasons behind that and reviewed some of the key mechanisms by which Kuwaiti
women may be empowered on the economic front, as well as establishing women
leadership within the business sector in an appropriate manner that matches
their achievements within the educational, political and social rights
Al-Bahar heighted the qualitative
leaps achieved by Kuwaiti women in obtaining all their rights in getting access
to education, workplace and political participation, emphasizing their success
in gaining various rights compared to other countries across the region. The
latest data published by international organizations shows leading figures in
favor of females when it comes to their enrollment in different levels of
education, reaching up to 87% in primary level and 89% in secondary level of
education compared to 83% for male enrollment.
Al-Bahar also stressed on Kuwaiti
women's success in climbing the career ladder to affirm their prominent position in the business sector.
Al-Bahar pointed out that the
main problem was professional level disparities. Despite the Kuwaiti woman's
success in obtaining her civil rights and the great leap she managed to achieve
in education attainment, Kuwait ranks 126th in the Global Gender Gap report,
reflecting a significant decline in Kuwaiti women empowerment. Regardless of
their superior educational level, women still represent only 13.6% of the
legal, legislative and senior management positions.
Al-Bahar also emphasized the
importance of continually striving to raise the level of education while
ensuring that educational attainment received by women is geared towards
preparing them for labor market, pointing out the need for women to enter into
fields such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics, in addition to
humanities and arts.
Al-Bahar explained that the
Kuwaiti public sector still presents the main employment destination to
Kuwaitis as it offers substantial benefits when compared to the private
sector's job offering. She also stressed that the government needs to develop
the private sector's role and its participation in the Kuwaiti economy so that
it may attract and employ job seekers, resulting in turn in women empowerment
due to the gender equality in the private sector which is more pronounced than
in the public sector.
Al-Bahar pointed out that the
wide disparities in wages and compensation between male and female employees is
one of the key obstacles that presents itself against women empowerment on the
economic front, especially in the public sector, where female employees receive
28% lower wages than male employees, stressing the need to eliminate such gaps
in order to encourage women to get back in the work force and excel.
Al-Bahar concluded by appealing
to all leaders to overcome the barriers facing women empowerment in order to
help provide a better working environment and improve the current systems and
regulatory and operational frameworks, confirming her full trust and optimism
in achieving those goals in no time in line with the martial efforts exerted by
all governmental and civil institutions.