Investing in Her: Accelerating progress for a brighter future

For over a century, International Women’s Day has acted as an important reminder of the indomitable spirit of women around the world. As we get ready to celebrate this benchmark of women’s progression in 2024, the theme “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress” deeply resonates, urging us to reflect on the tremendous strides made, acknowledge the challenges ahead, and recommit to the collective empowerment of women in every walk of life.
Today, more women than ever are CEOs, astronauts, self-made millionaires, and world leaders, proving there is no hurdle too high, and no dream beyond reach. From boardrooms to laboratories, from art studios to political arenas, women have risen to prominence, demonstrating that talent knows no gender. These women serve as exemplary torch bearers who forge a path to inspire future generations. Their incredible contributions have not only enriched individual sectors but have truly propelled society forward, by building a better tomorrow through diversity, innovation, with the invaluable female perspective.  

However, despite the progress we’ve made, challenges persist, and we are continually reminded of the collective work that lies ahead. According to the International Labor Organisation, even though women make up roughly 50% of the global population, only 61% of the female population participate in the workforce, compared to 90% of men. This is compounded by an alarming forecast that gender parity progress remains sluggish and uneven. Indeed, the 2022 Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum estimates it will take 132 years to bridge the current gap - an urgent call to action for leaders worldwide. 

As we highlight the need for balanced representation in the world and celebrate examples of female excellence throughout our many sectors and industries, it is critical that we also acknowledge that improved female representation requires direct, focused action and personal investment if we are to challenge this disturbing 132-year prediction.

During my own experience at a senior level in the publishing industry I was always surprised by the poor levels of female representation while attending meetings.  I made it my mission during my tenure as President of the International Publishers Association to change this.  It led to the creation of PublisHer – an initiative to empower women in publishing and advance them towards leadership and board roles. We have recently extended the PublisHer mandate further by launching The PublisHer Excellence Awards, with the aim of recognising and amplifying women’s voices, while fostering leadership within the industry. 

I am also deeply committed to addressing gender-based inequity through education – which is one of the most important aspects of life, lighting a path toward opportunity and a brighter future. This belief is a driving force within Sharjah’s educational institutions, and through its development programs, our renowned universities aim to foster diverse leaders, by giving female students the tools to excel in their academic journeys and contribute to a vibrant workforce. 

The same can be said for Sharjah’s technology institutions, which embody this same spirit, and through fervent advocacy for women in STEM are actively bridging the digital divide. As women become leaders in technology, their unique strengths combined with innovation drive positive impact, showcase the true power and potential of education towards female empowerment.

As we celebrate the achievements of the past, let us look forward with determination. By investing in women, we not only accelerate progress, but we are laying the foundations for a future where all individuals, regardless of gender, can contribute to our future accomplishments together. This International Women's Day, let us commit to dismantling remaining barriers, fostering an inclusive environment and creating a world where every woman's potential is recognised, celebrated, and fully realised.
March 07, 2024 / 6:09 PM

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