By Mudassir Raja
A globally-recognised celebration that has been observed since the early 1900s, International Women’s Day falls on March 8. Its official stated aim is to progress gender parity. All around the world, seminars, workshops and conferences are held to highlight the contributions made by women as leading figures in their respective societies.
Like rest of the world, Doha also hosted many activities to highlight the role and real importance of women in the society. In this regard, the Embassy of France and Maison de la Fracne, in co-operation with different French organisations and companies, recently organised ‘Women and Diversity Lunch Talk’ in W Doha Hotel. Working women, particularly working at important positions in different organisations in Qatar, attended the conference in large numbers.
Franck Cellet, Ambassador of France, attended the interactive conference as a special guest. The conference featured speeches by various experts along with an interactive session between the audience and two sets of expert panels.
The programme kicked off with a key-note speech by Dr Sheikha bint Abdulla al-Misnad, a Qatari educationist and researcher. Tanguy De Belair, director of Diversity, Vinci Group, also spoke on the occasion on ‘What is Diversity?’
There were two panels of experts that took part in the interactive session. The first panel consisted of prominent women, included Dr Clare Beckett-Mcinroy, Executive Coach at Qatar Financial Centre; Maryam al-Kaab, Chief Administrator and Personnel Officer at North Oil Company; and Dr Noora Fetais, Director of Kindi Centre for Computing Research, College of Engineering Qatar University. The second panel had human resource managers, including Wafa al-Safaar, Lead CSR and Institutional Relations at Total; Navdeep Lamba, HR Manager at Thales; Alen Isac, Deputy HR Manager at Alstom. While opening the session, Lionel Levha, President of Maison de la France, said. “This initiative is a part of the International Women’s Day. We should appreciate the roles played by women around the world, whatever the situation be. We have tried to make this event as open as possible. Do not hesitate to raise questions for the speakers. We thank and appreciate the speakers for participating in the programme. We are also thankful to the French embassy and our sponsors, including Total, Alstom, Technip FMC, INCI, French Chamber of Commerce, and French Business Council.”
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Sheikha bint Abdulla al-Misnad, said, “I am thankful to the French Embassy for inviting me. Today, I will strictly share my personal views and experiences as a researcher with you. In my opinion, women in Qatar have made great achievements. There are reasons for that. The first reason is the historical nature of the Qatari society. As we all know, before the oil production, the life in Qatar was very hard. Men had to go far away from homes in search of livelihood for months. During that time, women would take care of the community. They were the managers of the community. Even in the Bedouin lifestyle, the women had a great role to play. They used to attend their guests in the absence of men. In this historical backdrop, the women in Qatar have always been as strong, respectful and important part of the society. The life was so hard that the women could not sit idle.
“Since Qatar’s oil and gas industry started developing, things have changed a lot. The education system has brought many changes in the society. Education started in Qatar during 1950s. First school started in 1955. The government started many incentives encouraging parents to send their children to the modern schools. Most of the population of Qatar was concentrated in Doha and Al Khor. It was easy to provide school education for all.”
The educationist, with the help of data and statistics, highlighted about the progress of women in Qatar because of education. She said that the government of Qatar continues to encourage students to obtain education wherever in the world they want to.
Her address was followed by an interactive session, further raising awareness about the progress of women in Qatar, in particular, and in the world, in general.
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