x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

High-profile backers for summit on empowering Arab women

The wives of three Arab leaders have offered their support for the Arab Women Organization's (AWO) second summit.

ABU DHABI // The wives of three Arab leaders have offered their support for the Arab Women Organization's (AWO) second summit, in Abu Dhabi this week. Lebanon's Wafa Suleiman, Amina Abbas, of the Palestinian territories, and Sudan's Widad Babiker Omer have praised the AWO chairwoman, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, state news agency WAM reported. Sheikha Fatima's "role in backing the women issues across the Arab world draws gratitude and positive response", Ms Abbas, wife of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said. The summit, to be held from Nov 11 to 13 at Emirates Palace hotel, will bring together the wives of Arab monarchs and leaders, as well as delegates from Arab countries. They are expected to discuss programmes to aid women who work in education, health care, media and economics. The summit will also focus on the development of women, children and the family across the Arab world. Each of the leaders' wives pointed out progress made in helping the advancement of women in her country. Mrs Suleiman, wife of the Lebanese president, Michel Suleiman, said the women's movement in Lebanon was an example of resistance and success, according to WAM. Mrs Omer, wife of the Sudanese president, Omar Hassan al Bashir, said: "We in Sudan have initiated several programmes for the development of family and children. "I personally initiated a programme for combating Aids before four years, and another programme for investing in the empowerment of women and children is gaining ground." Sudan has guaranteed women will hold 25 per cent of seats in its legislature. Sheikha Fatima praised the political success of women in the UAE, noting that women comprise 22 per cent of the seats in the Federal National Council. They also hold four Cabinet positions, a 50 per cent rise on last year. As many as 66 per cent of all government jobs are held by women, with a third of those being leadership positions, WAM reported. The AWO was formed in 2000 in Cairo and is based in Egypt. jgerson@thenational.ae