The Arab International Women’s Forum (AIWF) held on 20 September 2012, at the Lebanese American University in Beirut (LAU), a conference as part of its initiative entitled “Young Arab Women Leaders - The Voice of the Future” in partnership with PwC and the Institute of Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) at the Lebanese American University. As the second of a series of events planned for the year and beyond, the Beirut conference was attended by guest of honour HE Mrs. Mona Afeish, former Minister of State, representing HE Mrs. Wafaa Suleiman, First Lady of Lebanon. The conference aimed to assist a wide spectrum of young women leaders in Lebanon and across the region to further optimise and strengthen their personal business skills and overall contribution to the business world and community at large.
Designed to assist young women leaders in understanding the role of gender equality in shaping political, economic and social opportunities available to women in the Arab world, the conference’s main objectives were to provide the ideal opportunity for participants to gain key insights into best practice methods that transform challenges and barriers into success stories and various opportunities for development and enhancement. It also served as a platform for the generation of young aspiring women in Lebanon to support, engage and network with other women in pioneering political, economic and social leadership roles in the Arab world while learning more about the qualities of leadership for women in the 21st century.
Moderated by Ms Alia Ibrahim, Senior Correspondent at Al Arabiya News Channel in Lebanon, the conference was attended by 130 participants mainly from Lebanon but also from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Kingdom, and witnessed the participation of several prominent figures and guest speakers from the corporate, NGO and government sectors. They included Mrs Haifa Al Kaylani, Founder Chairman of AIWF; Mr Camille C Sifri, Country Senior Partner/ PwC, Lebanon; HE Raya Haffar El Hassan, Former Lebanese Minister of Finance; Ms Dala Misbah Ghandour, Lawyer and Mediator, Specializing in Family and Sharia Law in Lebanon; Mrs Hanan A. Saab, Managing Director, Pharmamed, Lebanon; Ms Joelle Rizk, Programme Associate, Regional Security, EastWest Institute, Belgium; Dr Charlotte Karam, Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior and Organizational Psychology, Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut; Dr Rana El Chemaitelly, CEO and Founder, The Little Engineer SARL, Lebanon; Dr Mona Hammami, Senior Manager, The Court of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Ms Rafa Chabtini & Ms Hiba Safieddine, Co-owners Trainstation Studio, Lebanon; Dr Dima Dabbous-Sensenig, Director of the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World, (IWSAW) at the Lebanese American University in Beirut (LAU); Ms Ola Mohammad Sidani, Economic Officer, Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Lebanon; Ms Joumana Salem, Senior Director – Franchise and BU Sales Capability, PepsiCo East Med and Africa business unit (EMA BU), Lebanon; Mrs Randa Yassir, Director SMART Center, Lebanon; Mrs Wafa’ Tarnowska, CSR Manager, UK & Europe, DLA Piper LLP; Ms Norma Taki, Partner/ PwC United Arab Emirates; Ms Maya Karanouh, CEO and Founder, TAGbrands, Lebanon; Ms Haneen Sayed, Coordinator of the World Bank Human Development Program in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
Commenting on the Forum, Mrs Haifa Al Kaylani, Founder Chairman of AIWF stated: “Over the last decade, AIWF has firmly believed that Arab governments must comprehensively adopt a sustainable development strategy that is focused on the Arab world’s most precious asset and natural resource – its people, especially women and young people. Our underlying priority in 2012 and in years to come is to promote empowerment for women and youth to act as future agents for lasting, sustainable development and prosperity in the Arab world.”
Mrs Al Kaylani added: “We are also very fortunate to have speakers who provided added-value and brought the conference objectives to life through their own personal experience and success stories and by creating an informative, invaluable and interactive experience.”
Mrs. Al Kaylani continued that AIWF is proud to work closely with PwC and all AIWF’s Global Corporate and Institutional Partners in this important initiative which introduces a new generation to commonly shared principles by encouraging young professionals to enhance their contribution to society and business in addition to developing further leadership skills.
From his side, Mr Camille Sifri, Country Senior Partner, PwC Lebanon, commented: "We believe that good professionals should be given every opportunity to develop and grow, gender disregarded. We, at PwC, invest our time, knowledge and resources where there is potential, to allow individuals to reach their full potential. However, women require a more personalised approach, a more flexible approach in relation to their responsibilities outside of work; which is why we are partners with AIWF and we endeavour to partake in initiatives that aim to encourage and empower young bright hardworking women”.
Mr Sifri added: "If despite all the inequalities and the pressures they are confronted with in their upbringing and education, more and more women are making a career for themselves and advancing in the workplace, imagine what would happen if they were offered the proper guidance and support they so richly deserve".

Dr Joseph G. Jabbra, President of the Lebanese American University (LAU), also addressed the Young Arab Women Leaders welcoming them at LAU and emphasizing on the importance of such conferences that bring together both experts and young women together to examine effective approaches in closing the gender gap which has significantly limited women’s access to high positions in different fields in the Arab region.
Jabbra continued: “We are nowadays in dire need of women with a seasoned civic culture, educated and intelligent women in all arenas. Our region needs educated and experienced women, young women, talented women to determine for it a sensible sense of direction and shape its development.”
Finally Dr Jabbra, on behalf of the entire LAU family, saluted the Arab International Women’s Forum, PwC and the Institute of Women’s Studies in the Arab World for putting together this important event.
The event included a diverse range of engaging topics and panel discussions including ‘Welcoming and Introducing The AIWF-PwC Young Arab Leaders Programme’, ‘Beyond the Glass Ceiling: Transforming Barriers into Opportunities’, ‘Opportunities and Challenges for Young Women Leaders’, ‘PwC Vision on Young Women Leaders Programme’, ‘Mentorship and Coaching: Be a Better leader’, ‘Reflections on Leadership: My Story’, ‘Young Women Leaders and Why They Matter’, ‘Women and The Power of Social Media’, ‘Social Responsibility: More Women Leaders, Better CSR’ and ‘The Way Forward’.

Launch of the Arab Internation Women's Forum “Young Arab Women Leaders - The Voice of the Future” Initiative in partnership with PwC and the Institute of Women's Studies in the Arab Word (IWSAW) in Beirut, Lebanon

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