By Sports Reporter/Doha
Everyone in Qatar and across the world should ‘unite for progress and challenge beyond expectation’, say Qatar’s most extraordinary women in sport after sharing their inspirational stories at an event hosted by the Qatar Olympic Committee to mark International Women’s Day.
“Achieving progress is all about the dialogue and communication between and within us. Determination is the key to achieving your goals and creating the reality that you want to see.”
Those were the words of Jawaher Alfardan, co-founder of Qatar’s first-ever vegan cafe and first-ever Qatari-owned yoga studio, who was one of five on the esteemed panel.
Staged in the Aspire Zone last Thursday and organised by the Qatar Olympic Committee, representatives from a wide variety of Qatari sectors were brought together with dignitaries and athletes as well as members of the public to accelerate dialogue on what it will take to empower women in a setting that celebrated the achievements of those leading the charge.
Joining Alfardan on the panel was Sheikha Asma al-Thani, Director of Marketing and Communications at the Qatar Olympic Committee and devoted adventurer along with youth advocate Dana al-Anazy, who together with Sheikha Asma was one of the first female Qataris to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2014, Qatar’s first female two-time Olympian Nada Mohamed and talented young member of Qatar’s athletics team, Mariam Farid, who is hoping to compete in the Doha 2019 IAAF World Championships in Athletics when the world’s third largest sporting event comes to Qatar next year.
Dana al-Anazy who delivered a strong keynote speech to the audience before the start of the panel session, said: “Women in Qatar have found their voices and places in multiple sectors such as sports politics arts and film however we still have a long way to go in supporting the development of our nation with an equitable access granted to women and men alike. I challenge you, dare to dream of a better you, dare to manifest the society that offers equal access and opportunities for women and men, dare to be women that support one another, dare to be men that support women and dare to be above all human beings that work for the bettering of all human kind. It all starts with you!”
Sport, and how to encourage more Qatari women to get healthy and active, formed the basis of lively contributions from the panel, which sparked open and passionate dialogue with an audience keen to contribute with actionable ways of accelerating gender parity.
Speaking during the session, Sheikha Asma al-Thani who is aiming to become the first Qatari to ski to the North Pole in April this year, whilst also directing the Marketing and Communications function at the Qatar Olympic Committee said: “Challenges inspire me to achieve my goals, and achieve greatness. They are also an opportunity for people to communicate and be inspired so that they can set their goals and go for it. We can all challenge beyond expectation, pushing the boundaries of what is possible and achieving more than we think we can or what others think we can.”
Sheikha Asma’s journey to the pole will see her join an all-female international team from European and Arabian countries in an expedition which aims to foster greater dialogue and understanding between cultures, by having them come together to achieve a staggering shared goal.
Purposefully held on International Women’s Day, an annual global date to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, the session saw fascinating discussion about the responsibility of the whole of society in making progress to achieve gender parity.
Speaking on the importance of the mutual support between males and females in all fields, Mariam Farid, one of Qatar’s most talented female athletes said: “My family support me a lot in my sporting journey. My father and my brother are always there for me and without them I wouldn’t be a member in Team Qatar now. Men and women complete each other and they should always support each other.”
Following the panel session, female guests at the event were encouraged to take part in a range of sporting activities organised on site, including boxing and spinning classes.
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