Sharjah – MENA Herald: Sharjah will host the second edition of ‘Investing in the Future’ (IFFMENA), a conference that aims to overturn negative cultural stereotypes that hinder women’s progress in the region. Taking place on October 19-20 under the theme ‘Building the Resilience of Women and Girls in the Arab Region,’ the event focuses on advocacy for Arab women and the Girl child by building their capacity and increasing their opportunities available to them.

Organised by The Big Heart Foundation, a Sharjah-based international humanitarian body dedicated to helping the vulnerable and people in need worldwide, in collaboration with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), IFFMENA takes place under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah and Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness The Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of the Big Heart Foundation, UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, and Chairperson of the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA).

The two-day IFFMENA conference will bring together government officials, representatives of international organisations and non-governmental organisations, advocates of gender equality, academics and a number of regional and international media personalities. It aims to be a platform for participants to forge new partnerships, share successful practices and develop innovative methods for gender equality. During the event the participants will discuss the progress achieved by MENA women, outline measures to introduce a sustainable approach to development and formulate an integrated package of programmes designed to maintain the capacities of women and young girls.

“The world is witnessing challenges that are imposing significant burdens on certain social groups, especially women who shoulder both heavy family and professional responsibilities. This situation calls for all of us to make a greater effort to improving their capabilities and help them to meet their responsibilities, both at home and in the community,” said Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi.

Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi expressed her hope that the ‘Investing in the Future’ conference would enable Arab women overcome obstacles and contribute significantly to the region’s economic and social development. Her Highness stressed that the UAE, under the support and directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and their Highnesses, the Rulers of the Emirates, has managed to build a glorious nation that fully utilises the skills and capacities of women. Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi paid rich tribute to Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak (Mother of the Nation), Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, for the great role she plays in empowering Emirati women.

“The organising of this major global event for the second time is yet another indication of Sharjah’s growing stature on the international arena. Sharjah’s approach stems from our wise leadership’s belief in the importance of respecting human rights and supporting the capacity building of women and girls in the UAE, the Arab region and the wider world, especially in countries that are suffering from crises and wars. The difficult conditions in these regions have negatively affected the status of women, particularly girls who have lost their right to education and a dignified life,” said Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi.

Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi underlined the significance of Sharjah’s hosting of the IFFMENA conference to mobilise international efforts in investing in Arab women and providing them with the necessary support that will allow them to achieve their ambitions. Her Highness reiterated that the event seeks to highlight the need to incorporate women and girls into decision-making and planning for economic empowerment, stating that it will emphasise the necessity of ensuring access to resources, particularly for female-headed households in countries that impose social and economic restrictions on women.