The Executive Director of the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy (CSP), Clare Woodcraft participated in a discussion hosted by the Nama Women Advancement Establishment, a leading organisation on women’s empowerment in the UAE and Save the Children, addressing the topic of Local Voices: Creating an Equitable World for Girls. The high-level private roundtable that was held on 12 October 2020 reflected on how girls’ education and economic empowerment in the region have been impacted by the current pandemic and invited participants to share their unique experiences in trying to overcome current challenges to protect the forward momentum of gender equity in the Middle East.
The virtual meeting looked at possible ways to improve opportunities for women and girls in the region against the backdrop of the global pandemic and the imperilling of hard-won progress for girls, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action for Women. Participants noted that over the past decade, the Middle East has witnessed significant advancements on economic and educational empowerment of women, the promotion and protection of girls’ rights, and the creation of opportunities for gender equality. With the onset of COVID-19, however, the Middle East and other regions have witnessed an increase in gender-based violence and child marriage, worsening access to education and opportunities for girls.
Speaking at the event, Woodcraft noted the importance of female role models in ensuring that progress in female empowerment is systemic and accelerated notably by getting more women into decision-making positions and using that power to ensure more gender-friendly policies at a macro-level. “I am so impressed with the power of female Arab talent,” Woodcraft said. “I noticed that the women on this call all sit on boards, they are all successful professionals, they all mentor other women. This should be our call to action. We need to work together on strategic projects to make a real difference for women.” Woodcraft noted that region-wide platforms to showcase female talent and support future leadership candidates are not pervasive enough and that more needs to be done to ensure that the journey of successful female Arab leaders is showcased widely with young women and girls to encourage others to follow their path.
The CSP is completing its first report on COVID-19 and philanthropy which also looks at the issue of gender diversity and equity in development.