To empower women is to empower all of society, Queen Rania of Jordan told participants at the first day of the Global Women’s Forum Dubai.
Speaking at the two-day conference, Queen Rania urged Arab societies to break the mould that restricts women’s participation in social development.
“Extremist ideologies have infiltrated our societies, demanding that we make leaps in our progress.
“We need to actively fight currents that are trying to throw us centuries behind,” she said. “These days, we are beginning to see the spread of illiteracy in communities that once graduated pioneers and scientists.”
She said this restricted the development of a woman’s capability, talent and ambition, which, she said, were based on culture, not religion.
“When Islam brought light to the world, it gave women rights, status and choices that freed them from the age of -ignorance and vulnerability they had endured in the pre-Islamic days,” she said. “Innovation breaks moulds. It is not limited by norms or institutions. Innovation is neither dependent on opinions nor agendas.
“When a woman succeeds, she reaches out to those around her and pulls them up with her. That is why if you empower a woman, you empower a whole society.”
Also speaking at the event, held at the Madinat Jumeirah, were Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Amal Al Qubaisi, Speaker of the Federal National Council.
Sheikh Abdullah told of how he had grown up in a house where Sheikh Zayed, Founding Father of the UAE, and his wife, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, were equal partners in family life.