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Qatar Foundation Announces ’50 Percent Female’ Conference Panel Pledge

Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation (QF), has today reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to bringing the widest possible range of perspectives to crucial issues and challenges – by announcing a pledge that will see women make up at least half the panel speakers at all its conferences and events, locally and internationally.

The regionally groundbreaking pledge – which will take effect from the start of 2020 across the organization, a key player in Qatar’s economic and social transformation through its initiatives in education, science and research, and community development – means participants in discussions and debates at every QF event, from summits to workshops, will always be no less than 50 percent female. 

Announced in the wake of the recent International Women’s Day, the move builds on the impact QF has made, over more than two decades, in providing opportunities for people to participate in driving the advancement of society on a local and global scale – regardless of gender, background, and culture – and to fostering diversity and inclusivity.

Supporting the United Nations’ focus on female empowerment as a crucial aspect of addressing global economic, social, and political challenges, the pledge announced by Her Excellency Sheikha Hind aims to strengthen dialogue and action on platforms within Qatar, across the Middle East and North Africa region, and around the world; and ensure that both male and female perspective is applied to the task of tackling issues that lie at the core of economic, social, and human development

Her Excellency Sheikha Hind said: “It is my belief, and that of Qatar Foundation, that neither gender nor any other consideration should present a barrier to a person’s development, their pursuit of opportunity, and their voice being heard in global conversations about topics, themes, and challenges that affect all of society.

“The pledge we announce today is a natural, visible, and powerful extension of this belief. Through our investment in education and our ethos as an organization, Qatar Foundation’s commitment to providing opportunities for everyone to be an active participant in society is personified by the diversity of the achievers and role models we nurture, and the impact they are making in a wide spectrum of fields within Qatar and beyond.

“Now, by committing to having at least 50 percent female representation on all our conference and event panels from 2020 onward, we aim to further emphasize Qatar Foundation’s role as a leader and driver of inclusivity and positive social change, nationally and regionally – and the necessity of both men and women being part of making this change happen.”

QF’s Education City ‘multiversity’ – home to nine universities – has a predominantly female student body, in which half of its engineering students are women. Meanwhile, women comprise 40 percent of QF’s leadership.

In 2018, QF hosted around 40 major local and international events, collectively attended by over 55,000 people. Among the platforms that will represent QF’s ’50 percent female’ pledge on the international stage are the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) and the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), QF initiatives respectively focused on shaping the future of education and healthcare through innovation and global collaboration.

Their events include biennial international summits that bring together decision-makers, thought leaders, and education and health practitioners from around the world, and include high-level panel sessions. The most recent WISE Summit, in 2017, saw over 100 speakers contribute to more than 50 sessions, with 2,000 delegates attending from over 150 countries. Meanwhile, almost 2,200 healthcare experts from 116 nations participated in the WISH 2018 Summit, which featured 22 expert panels.

Sultana Afdhal, CEO of WISH, said: “Historically, women have been underrepresented in leadership roles within the global healthcare sector. At WISH we work hard to give a voice to all within our extensive international community who are looking to play a part in building a healthier world, whether through participation at our flagship Doha summit or at any of the other events we convene throughout the year.

“If all voices are to be listened to and all ideas are to be given the same attention, concerted efforts must be made to ensure that experts from both genders are provided with the same opportunities to join the conversation. With this in mind, WISH wholeheartedly supports and embraces the QF pledge to promote equality of representation on its panels.”

Stavros N. Yiannouka, CEO of WISE, said: “As a global education platform committed to promoting inclusion and diversity in access to education, WISE has, since its inception, provided in our forums and projects visibility opportunities to renowned experts and thought leaders from diverse gender, socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds.”

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