In response to the recommendations of the Second Forum for Businesswomenin Islamic countries held in Kuala Lumpur from 8-10 December 2006, and on the invitation of the Ministry of Economy of Commerce, Qatari Businessmen Association and Qatari Businesswomen Forum, the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized the Third Forum for Businesswomen in Islamic Countries in Doha, State of Qatar from 13-15 January 2008, corresponding to 17-19 Muharram 1429, under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned wife of HH the Emir of the State of Qatar.This Forum was organized with the collaboration of Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, United Nations Development Programme, (SU/SSC-UNDP). The Forum’s theme was “Micro-Credit Financing…the way forward for economic prosperity”.
The Forum was attended by over 350 delegates representing 45 OIC Member Countries and International Organizations, including the Islamic Development Bank (IDB); the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, United Nations Development programme (UNDP); International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD); and International Organization for Sustainable Development (IOSD), (list of participants attached).
During the Forum the speakers highlighted the need to develop the status of women as an essential means for broader development. The participants identified several impediments peculiar to the circumstances of women, particularly in accessing finance and market access. During the Forum the participants networked among themselves, exchanged experiences and know-how in the establishment and operation of businesses; and in identifying new markets, thereby expanding contacts and business ties amongst their enterprises.
The Forum was inaugurated on Sunday, January 13, 2008, at Sheraton Hotel, with the recitation from the Holy Quran, followed by the following statements:
- His Excellency Mr. Yousef Hussain Kamal, Minister of Finance and Acting Minister of Economy and Commerce in his welcome addressexpressed his strong confidence that the areas of economic, commercial and developmental cooperation between Islamic countries are quite vast and the businesswomen have a great role to play in these areas to make maximum benefit. H.E.said that the Forum would come up with recommendations that reflect the significant role of businesswomen in accelerating the pace of economic development of the Islamic Countries. He thanked HRH Sheikha Mozah Nasser Al-Missned, the wife of HRH Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifah Al-Thani, The Emir of State of Qatar, for her patronage of this Forum. Further, he thanked and welcomed all the participants wishing them pleasant stay in Qatar. He also thanked QBA, ICCI, UNDP and IDB and staff of the Ministry of Economy and Trade for their efforts in organizing this Forum.
- H.E. Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani, Chairman of Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA), welcomed the participants and expressed his pride in organizing it in collaboration with the Ministry of Economy and Trade, ICCI, IDB, UNDP and Qatari Businesswomen Forum.He thanked on behalf of the Board of Directors and the Members of the QBA, all the participants of the Forum who came from abroad to contribute in developing the knowledge and culture about the activities of the businesswomen in Islamic Countries.He further added that the convening of a global forum that gathers distinguished personalities and prominent businesswomen from Arab and Islamic Countries is mainly aimed at enhancing and supporting women participation in the business community and encourages women projects and initiatives that reflect the economic progress of Arab and Islamic World. On the other hand the Forum would focus in projecting contributions and challenges of the businesswomen in terms of providing appropriate financing resources for their pioneering projects and identifying the needs and requirements of the businesswomen who came to Qatar to share their experiences and views with their counterparts.
- Ms. Attiya Nawazish Ali, Assistant Secretary General for Coordination, Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry in her welcome address stated that today fight against poverty tops the list of developmental objectives of the third millennium. Realizing the importance of this subject as identified by the businesswomen participants during the last 3-events organized by the Islamic Chamber. She said that the biggest barrier for the Businesswomen is neither ideas nor infrastructure, but simply Micro-Finance. Keeping in view that women are the major recipient of micro-credit financing, ICCItook the initiative of taking the theme of the 3rd Businesswomen Forum as “Micro-Credit Financing… the way forward for economic prosperity.” She requested the participants to take active part in the discussion by not only identifying the obstacles in micro-credit financing but also bring some concrete recommendations with practical solutions which could be incorporated in the Final Communiqué of this Forum, which would help Islamic Chamber, Islamic Development Bank and the UNDP in preparing an Action Plan for the future.
- The message of His Excellency Professor Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General, Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), was read out by Ms. Maha Mustapha Akeel, Managing Editor of the OIC Journal. In the message, H.E. showed confidence on the organization of the Forumand that it will not only explore the role of women entrepreneurship in job creation on the one hand, but it will also emphasize the prominent and effective role of women in the society, on the other. H.E. assured of the continued active support of the OIC General Secretariat and its organs and institutions in the process of implementation of the OIC Ten-Year Programme of Action, of which this Forum is a part. H.E. assured that he will spare no effort to encourage and promote economic empowerment of our honourable sisters in the Member States.
- The message of Mr. Yiping Zhou, Director Special Unit for South-South Cooperation was read out by Mr. Shahid Hussain, Special Advisor. In his message, he said that it is pleasure to note that in the true spirit of South-South Cooperation, this Forum is providing a platform to the participants from OIC member states and their diasporas, spread across several geographical regions of the world, to network among themselves and to learn from each other’s experiences innovative ways of accessing finance for their businesses; thereby overcoming the challenges they are facing in this regard. He expressed his hope that the participants would succeed in developing some concrete recommendations and a viable action plan in realizing the key goals.
- His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Mohammad Ali, President of Islamic Development Bank (IDB) addressing the participants of the Forum, congratulated the organizers for rightly choosing the theme as Micro-Finance, which has great importance in the development process. H.E. said that IDB looks forward to the success of this Forum and hopes it would produce valuable initiatives that would strengthen the strategies of micro-financing in combating poverty and fortify solid ground for economic empowerment of the needy and less developed segments of the society. H.E.informed that the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development which was established with the capital of US$10 billion in pursuance of the resolution of the Extra-Ordinary Summit of Makkha El-Mukarrama. This Fund would contribute to strengthening initiatives that would emerge from this Forum, so that the small projects of women may play pioneering role in taking the less income individuals out of poverty cage and free them from poverty bondage.
- Her Excellency Svetlana Inamova, Deputy Prime Minister of Republic of Uzbekistan in her address said that this Businesswomen Forum reflects the significance of women and their role in the socio-economic development in general and in investments and micro-financing in Islamic Countries in particular. H.E. added that Uzbekistan has facilitated businesswomen activities and the last decision taken by the government regulates for the development of micro-finance for women entrepreneurs. This facilitated more job opportunities in various sectors and there is a committee chaired by the daughter of the Deputy Prime Minister, this manifest the important role of women who assumed many important political slots.
- Her Excellency Sheikha Hessa Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah, Chairperson of Arab Businesswomen Councilhighlighted the economic and commercial developments of the Islamic Countries which are the main focus of national and religious matters, which is also becoming one of the major tools for reforms and developments that are looked after by our Islamic countries.
In the end, Islamic Chamber’s representative made the inaugural presentation of the OIC-Businesswomen Information Network.
The Forum elected the following office bearers:
- Chairperson – Ms. Aisha Al-Furdan
- Vice Chairperson – Ms. Attiya Nawazish Ali
- Rapporteur – Mr. Syed Shahid Husain
Afterwards, a drafting committee was set up which comprised of the following:
- Dr. Syed Azhar Ibne Hasan
- Mr. Ahmed El Shaffee
PRESENTATION OF PAPERS:
In nine sessions, the participants presented papers describing the role and issues being faced by businesswomen in the Islamic countries, with recommendations and proposals, for the possible solutions. Each session concluded with discussions, and question and answers.
The 1stSESSION chaired by H.E. Sheikha Hessa Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah, President of Arab Businesswomen Council, discussed the theme “Micro-Credit Financing….the way forward for economic prosperity”. The following participants made their presentations:
- Dr. Savas Alpay, Director General SESRTCIC, addressed the forum on ‘Micro credit Financing as a strategy for poverty alleviation in OIC Member Countries: problems and challenges’.
- Mr. Ozair A. Hanafi, President & CEO, Pak-Oman Micro-Finance Bank presented his paper on “Women Empowerment and Micro-Finance”.
- Mrs. Reem Badran, Jordan, focusedher presentation on ‘Micro- Finance and the Empowerment of Women- Jordan’s Experience’
- Dr. Amany Asfour, President, Egyptian Business Women Association, presented her paper on “Economic Empowerment of Women in Islam”.
Continuing the theme of the 1st Session, the 2ndSESSION was chaired by Mrs. Ghada Zaytoun, Heya. The following speakers presented their papers:
- Madam Fatemeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, Secretary General, Women Solidarity Association of Iran, made her presentation and shared with the audience on “Cultural Understanding for Progress and Growth under the perspectives of Islamic Shariah”.
- Mrs. Mervat Tellawy, Former Ex Secretary of ESCWA.
- Mrs. Randa Berri, Vice President of National Commission for Lebanese Women.
- Ms. Gulnara I. Hasanova, representative of Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce & Industry, presented the country paper on Azerbaijan.
The 3rdSESSION was chaired by Mr. Syed Shahid Husain, Special Advisor, Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, UNDP, and the theme of the session was “Businesswomen Role Models”. Under this session, the following participants were present for their contribution:
- Ms. Sabrina Islam, President, Women Entrepreneurs’ Association (WEA), Bangladesh
- Mrs. Suhila Al Harib, Acting Secretary General, Arab Youth Council for Development, Qatar
The 4thSESSION was chaired by Madam Aisha Al-Furdan, President, Qatari Businesswomen Forum, and the theme of the session was “Role and achievements of businesswomen councils/associations in the Arab Region – their success in promoting Women Entrepreneurs”.
- Mrs. Rabia El-Alam, Director, Morocco on “Women Micro Financing Institutions and their contribution to economic growth of Morocco”.
- Madam Leila Karami, President of the Lebanon Businesswomen Association.
- Mr. Sami Al Hawaj,Head of Industrial Support Unit, Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting
- Ms. Ragia Mohamed Abd El Halim Mohamed Hassan, Sudanese Businessmen and Employers Federation, Sudan
The 5thSESSION was chaired by Mr. Rabih Mattar, Islamic Development Bank (IDB), and theme of the session was “Global best practices in decision making for Businesswomen”.
- Mr. Shahid Hussain, Special Advisor, SU/SSC.
- Ms. Joni Simpson “Importance of offering a continuum of services, adapted to the needs of women entrepreneurs, that follow them along their path to financial autonomy”.
- Ms. Fatima Bello Aliyu, Special Advisor, Governor of Kano State, Nigeria on “Role of International Agencies in the development of women entrepreneurs”.
- Ms. Lejla Sunagic, Gender Specialist, UN International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and representative of Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
The 6thSESSION was a session of “Open Dialogue” chaired by Sheikha Hanadi Bint Nasser Al Thani, Chairperson of Amwal, Qatar, and theme of the session was “Empowerment of Businesswomen in Islamic Countries”. Keynote speakers were invited, namely:
- H.E. Dr. Rafida Aziz, Minister of Economy, Malaysia.
- H.E. Barrister Shahida Jameel, Federal Minister for Women Development, Social Welfare and Special Education, Government of Pakistan.
The session was highly interactive and the Honorable speakers presented their views and that of their respective governments on the steps and policies. Thereafter, a question answer session took place.
The 7thSESSION was chaired by Madam Widad Yaqoob Ibrahim, President, Sudanese Businesswomen Secretariat, and theme of the session was “Role and achievements of businesswomen councils/associations in the African Region – their success in promoting Women Entrepreneurs”.
- Madame Gangbo Lawani Grace, Vice President, Benin Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
- Ms. Dunstanette Macauley, Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Togo.
- Ms. Hajati Aisha Basajjanaku Lubega, Uganda on “Micro financing for women in Uganda”.
- Madame Koulsoumi Muller Epouse Koulangna, Cameroon.
The 8thSESSION was chaired by Begum Salma Ahmed, Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Pakistan, and theme of the session was “Role and achievements of businesswomen councils/associations in the Asia Region – their success in promoting Women Entrepreneurs”.
- Ms. Damira Mirzakhlilova, representative of Businesswomen Association of Uzbekistan on ‘Role and achievements of businesswomen association in the Republic of Uzbekistan – its success in promoting Women Entrepreneurs’.
- Ms. Seema Ghani, representative of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
- Ms. Shaira Saleem, President, Maldives Women Entrepreneurs Council (WEC).
- Mrs. Seyedeh Fatemeh Moghimi, Advisor to ICCIM President in Women Entrepreneurs Affairs, Iran.
- Mrs. Sharifah Aminah Al-Khared, Malaysia.
The 9thSESSION was chaired by Mr. Ozair A. Hanafi, President & CEO, Pak-Oman Micro-Finance Bank, and theme of the session was “Micro-financing for Women Owned Business: How could capital and technical support providers enhance their service to promote women entrepreneurs”.
- Mr. Rabih Mattar, Islamic Development Bank (IDB).
- Mrs. Charmaine Hidayatullah, Vice President First Women Bank of Pakistan.
- Madam Widad Yaqoob Ibrahim, President, Family Bank, Sudan.
The Forum encouraged and stimulated in-depth discussions among all the participants. Based upon the presentations and views expressed, it adopted the following Communiqué:
We the delegates to the Third Forum for Businesswomen in Islamic Countries gathered in Doha, State of Qatar:
- Greatly appreciate the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned consort of HH the Emir of the State of Qatar, and the consent of His Excellency Mr. Yousef Hussain Kamal, Minister of Finance and Acting Minister of Economy and Commerce to inaugurate the Forum and extend generous support and cooperation in convening of the event.
- RECOGNIZE the efforts of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), and the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, UNDP, in organizing the Third Businesswomen Forum on the theme of ‘Micro-credit Financing… the way forward for economic prosperity.’
- ACKNOWLEDGE the initiative of the Islamic Chamber in fostering a platform for Businesswomen of Islamic Countries.
- APPRECIATEthe support of the international and regional organizations in strengthening the capacity of the Islamic Chamberfor creating linkages among businesswomen organizations.
- EMPHASIZEthe need for closer collaboration among businesswomen organizations/associations at regional and inter-regional levels.
- CONCERNED with the continuing lack of information, and absence of financing, which pose obstacles in strengthening and expanding the business activities of women entrepreneurs in Islamic Countries.
- ACKNOWLEDGE the progress attained towards networking among businesswomen of Islamic Countriesthrough the establishment of a database mechanism by the Islamic Chamber in collaboration with IDB and UNDP and further call for making the web portal broader based.
- APPRECIATEthe recent initiatives of the Islamic Development Bank, especially the establishment of Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development with a capital of US$ 10 billion which would assist inthe micro-credit sector,focusing on the needs of businesswomen.
1. EXPRESSthe hope that national financial Institutions in OIC Member States will collaborate with the Islamic Development Bank in formulating an effective mechanism within a well planned time frame for increasingly accessing micro-credit facilities to women entrepreneurs in OIC Member Countries.
2. CALL UPON the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other relevant Institutions to setup a Capacity Building Institute/ Training Institute to support micro-finance,to identify relevant tools and share best practices.
3. ENCOURAGE businesswomen’s enterprises in OIC Countries, and in Muslim Communities in non-OIC Member Countries, to actively participate in the OIC-Businesswomen Information Network (oic-bin) by contributing information to its database, and accessing information from it, for exploring business opportunities.
4. CALL UPON the OIC, its institutions, the United Nations agencies, its funds programs and agencies, and Member Chambers of Commerce and Industry to continue their collaboration with the Islamic Chamber of Commerce & Industry in organizing future Forums, Workshops and Training Programs for Businesswomen.
5. CALL UPON the businesswomen’sorganizations in OIC Member Countries to increasingly utilize the strengthened capacity of the Islamic Chamber in promoting business relations andjoint ventures among themselves.
6. CALL UPON the General Secretariat of ICCI to transmit this Declaration to relevant Foras of OIC, and of the United Nations.
7. ACKNOWLEDGEthe invitation of the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Commerce & Industry to host the Fourth Forum for Businesswomen in Islamic Countries, inNovember 2008 inDamascus.
8. EXPRESSgratitude to the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Islamic Development Bank; Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, UNDP; Businessmen Association; and Qatari Businesswomen Forum for their support and contribution towards the successful organization of the Third Forum for Businesswomen in Islamic Countries.
End of the Communiqué.
The closing session was co-chaired byH.E. Sheikha Ahmed Al Mahmoud, Minister of Education, Qatar and H.E. Yiping Zhou, Director Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, UNDP. In the closing statement H.E. Yiping Zhou extended the greetings from the Secretary General of the United Nations Mr. Ban Ki Moon, and from the Administrator of UNDP, Mr. Kemal Dervis, and their best wishes for the success of the Forum.The UN Secretary-General has, on several occasions, stressed that “South-South cooperation is central to global efforts to eradicate poverty, stimulate economic growth and promote sustainable development”. UNDP’s commitment to this cause is also at the highest level. He emphasized that “learning from, and focusing on the absolute need to improve the position of, women is an essential component of broader development and vital to our common goals.” The instrumentality of micro-credit is an important remedy against this impediment, and the organizers of the Third Forum have been wise in identifying this issue for review and discussion at this occasion. He said that he is sure that the experiences shared here and the aspirations for working together would become the “upper-hander” in today’s most competitive market, domestic and foreign, and going to make the dreams of millions businesswomen in OIC countries and around the world come true. He expressed his confidence that the work here and the network that ICCI has established are going to make a decisive contribution to our ongoing efforts to create a ‘One Million Businesswomen of the South On-line’ at our first Global South-South Development Expo later this year. He invited all the participants at that event.
The Organizing Committee of the Forum presented Awards to the “Most Outstanding Businesswomen”to: Mrs. Sabrina Islam ofBangladesh;Dr. Amany Asfour of Egypt; and Mrs. Fatima Bello Aliyu of Nigeria. The selection was made on the basis of performance and contributions to the socio-economic development of the respective countries.
On January 15, 2008, all the foreign delegates were taken on a visit to HE Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani’s Private Farm and Museum,arranged by the Qatari Businessmen Association.