A Cartier VIP event brought together prominent and influential female personalities from Qatar and the Middle East at Liwan Design Studios and Labs yesterday (March 7), marking the annual International Women’s Day (IWD).
The occasion, organised by Cartier in collaboration with Qatar Museums (QM), put a spotlight on the power and influence of women in the region, and celebrates their achievements.
One of the highlights was a panel discussion titled “Women as a driving force of change”, featuring Injaz Al Arab chairperson and Injaz Qatar founding chair Sheikha Hanadi al-Thani, Liwan designer Aisha al-Sowaidi, 1309 founder and creative director and The Cutting Studio founder and CEO Ghada al-Subaey, and QM’s head of programmes Fahad al-Odaidly as host.
All In Her (2023), a Cartier-commissioned piece made of acrylic and 24k gold leaf sheets on handmade ahar paper by Qatari artist and calligrapher AlAnoud al-Ghamdi, was also unveiled at the event. It is inspired by excerpts from a poem written by Sheikh Jassim bin Mohamed bin Thani, founder of Qatar and one of the most influential poets of the 19th century.
Speaking prior to the talk, Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) deputy CEO and chief business officer Sheikha Alanoud al-Thani thanked Cartier for organising the gathering, saying: “It’s always great to be an event where we see both genders represented... It is a testament to the important role of women in any society whether it is in Qatar or globally.”
In her speech, Sheikha Alanoud al-Thani said in Qatar and throughout the region, women are a driving force behind the transformation that is underway. She added that based on numerous studies, levelling the playing field between men and women has major economic benefits.
In Qatar, Sheikha Alanoud said that women hold numerous high-profile public posts who lead and inspire other women, directing initiatives, and setting national policies and strategies, and leading their own organisations forward.
“Qatari women not only outnumber men in higher education but the participation of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education fields is nearly 50% higher than the global average.
“These highly educated women are eager to utilise the knowledge and skills that they’ve acquired and women’s economic participation is rising rapidly as a result,” she noted. “Qatar also has a 57% labour participation rate, the highest in the Arab world and well above the global average.”
Empowering women has helped Qatar prosper as never before, Qatar is booming and women are a key reason for that growth.
Sheikha Alanoud cited Qatar’s important steps in creating a more inclusive work environment such as mandating paid maternity leaves, and while at QFC, an initiative to support paternity leave was launched as well as fully funding maternity leave beyond six months.
Meanwhile, the talk underlined the journey of renowned and influential women in Qatar and the region in achieving their status as they overcome several challenges along the way.
“Rather than using the word ‘empowerment’, which is something that you give, you do an atmosphere that encourages girls or women to achieve, I think in Qatar now we are looking at the word ‘inpowerment’ because it is unleashing the power that is within the youth and the girls of this country to achieve better future for Qatar,” Sheikha Hanadi pointed out.
Al-Sowaidi said she sees challenges as opportunities to become a better multidisciplinary designer while al-Subaey, who is passionate about fashion design but graduated with a degree in accountancy, said she figured her own way (to become a successful designer) despite the many challenges and difficulties.
Al-Subaey cited QM Chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani’s opening of M7, which played an essential role in enabling designers to excel in the creative field; and for opening the doors for people like her to contribute in completing the creative ecosystem in Doha as well as building a creative economy by opening “The Cutting Studio”.
PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam