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Monday, December 6, 2021

Is gender equality and youth development in your New Year’s resolution?


Globally 39% of women are part of the labour force according to the World Bank. To be more specific, only 57% of women in Qatar contribute compared to the 96% of males between the ages of 15yrs-24yrs who are actively participating in the workforce. 

This has nothing to do with the potential or capabilities of girls and women in Qatar but a reflection of our efforts in closing the gap and how much more we need to do towards gender equality. 

How can we all collaborate and work together to fill in the gaps that exist in our country and reduce the systemic inequalities that prevent the lack of representation of women and young people in employment and leadership positions?

HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser built an entire city unlike any other in the world to ensure Qatar is a leading example for education and gender equality. HH Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al-Thani is hands on when it comes to Qatar Foundation and its mission to create a knowledge-based economy. 

We have role models such as Ms Noor Al Malki Al-Jehlani who represented Qatar at the UN and is dedicated to building healthier family structures that honours all women and children. 

We have scholars with international influence like Dr Amal Al Malki who focuses on women empowerment and deconstructing the multi-oppressive barriers that have held us back for centuries. 

We have so many women devoted to designing transformational education for our youth just look at the work Buthaina Ali Al Nuaimi is doing for Pre-university education. Visit schools and talk to women like Carolyn Parker from Qatar Academy and have a conversation about the work she puts in as a director to ensure children are receiving the best care and environment in their school lives.

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These women shouldn’t be the exception, we should aim to empower all our girls and boys to be active participants in the decision making of the nation. We need to encourage more women and young people to be a part of building our economy in every industry. Our young people have to see and know that they are valued and are welcome to make a difference in order to achieve Qatar’s National Vision. 

Qatar has so much to offer, these statistics shouldn’t be where we are at in 2020. We need to use these examples mentioned as an inspiration to work towards taking responsibility in structuring a better tomorrow. Actively implement policies that take into account the challenges that are holding back so many.

Let 2021, be the year that we ALL are conscious of the disparities that exist in our communities and let it be the year we take strides to collaborate towards sustainable change. 

Just recently THIMUN, led by Fatima El Mahdi continued with their yearly Qatar Leadership Conference refusing to stop preparing youth for leadership despite the impact of the pandemic. On an individual level, we have bloggers like Wasan Altikriti engaging thousands of women and youth around essential topics like mental health and spirituality.

Read also: Fatma Shadad, the woman who pushed boundaries with her melodic voice

Hamad Bin khalifah University (HBKU) has set up a global initiative to ‘’Design a Post- COVID Humanity’’.  The program is centred around collaborating with many young people around the world so they can access the tools, knowledge and resources to foster human-centric programs that take into account sustainable development goals whilst building young people’s entrepreneurial skills. 

Innovations led by communities, the government and various social systems is an investment in the long-term solutions Qatar needs to be able to successfully meet its national goals.

In addition to this, mentorships and opportunities that provide young people who are driven and passionate towards access to employability has proven successful with Qatar’s international social development NGO; Silatech which seeks to connect young people with employment opportunities. As a result of this mission, Silatech has enabled over a million youth to actively participate in being agents of change both domestically and internationally. 

It is important that when we think about our economic development and Qatar’s mark on an international scale, we place our youth and women at the forefront. When we are hiring as companies and organisations, it’s important that instead of focusing on 10yrs+ of experience in a specific field, our HR understands that experience can be accumulated but there is a unique treasure in the passion, drive and ability of those who are willing to find solutions for our most pressing issues in society. 

We can build phenomenal leadership skills that compensate for the lack of experience by using education as the building block and following that up with access and practical application. 

We don’t have the luxury of time to keep ignoring the potential of young people and women. 

Qatar needs everyone to be active participants for our social, economic and sustainable development. 

As a country, we have the tools, the systems and capacity to make this happen, we just need to apply ourselves, and by 2030 our data will significantly improve.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Doha News, its editorial board or staff.

Ayan Said is a women’s rights activist, education advocate, One Young World Ambassador and the founder of Voicing Voices, a diversity and inclusion consultancy firm.

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