Women continue to face obstacles but some are starting to buck the trend: Arab Women Forum told

Updated 10 April 2018
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Women continue to face obstacles but some are starting to buck the trend: Arab Women Forum told

  • Arab Women Forum told young women need role models to work towards
  • Women are drawing on their on experiences to create thriving businesses
KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia: Women’s role in society is essential as it helps drive the economy and create diversity around the world - that was the ongoing message throughout the first Arab Women Forum held at King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) on Tuesday.

Delegates spoke of the struggles women face on a day-to-day basis in society, whether socially, through obstacles preventing career progression or economically.

“The glass ceiling is there, it has to be broken,” said CEO of Hawkamah Dr Ashraf Gamal El Din, referring to the hurdles women face.

And Managing director of Women’s Forum for Economy and Society, Chiara Corazza said it was not a true representation if people did not acknowledge the significance of diversity women give.

“It would be fake if you don’t take diversity as a key role,” she said, adding: “It’s a global fight, it’s not just regional.”

Director at the Babson Global Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Amal Ali Dokhan said younger generations of women and girls needed examples of success stories - women who had succeeded in entrepreneurial leadership.

“The problem,” she said, “is the lack of female examples that have experienced entrepreneurial success.”

She explained that society needed to hear women tell their success stories so “they actually can lead the way.”

But Dokhan said men still dominated education and entertainment industries. “When we talk about entertainment and education, all the examples are men, all the success stories are lead by men, when you actually focus on that, you find that this is again what they are instilling in their heads.”

She said the cure to the root of the problem “No matter how you educate women, if you don’t educate a society that accepts women as business owners, as entrepreneurs, that will never become a norm, you need to make it a norm, it’s not a norm yet.”

But it was not all bad news. The forum heard numerous examples of women who had found business opportunities through technology, or where they had exploited aspects of their daily life to create business opportunities.

Executive Director at the Neom Project Dr Maliha Hashmi said: “A woman in a remote area can open an online store and thus she helps the economy.

We see women selling food on Instagram, designers, and just the fact that you have 14 year old girls running their own stores online is fascinating.”

Managing Editor at Büro 24/7 Middle East Maddison Glendinning said women were being confronted with more opportunities now than before.

“It means women can start their own businesses from the comfort and the safety of their own home and that can have a viable career option for them that they haven’t had before,” Glendinning told Arab News.

“It’s a really exciting way forward for business and for women.” She added.
 


Philips to close its UK factory in 2020, with loss of 400 jobs

Updated 17 January 2019
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Philips to close its UK factory in 2020, with loss of 400 jobs

AMSTERDAM/LONDON: Dutch health technology company Philips said on Thursday it planned to close its only factory in Britain in 2020, with the loss of around 400 jobs, the latest firm to move manufacturing jobs out of Britain.
The move is part of a push by Philips to reduce its large manufacturing sites worldwide to 30 from 50, and a spokesman said the decision had no direct link with Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
However, the company said in a statement that it had to “pro-actively mitigate the potential impact of various ongoing geopolitical challenges, including uncertainties and possible obstructions that may affect its manufacturing operations.”
The factory in Glemsford, Suffolk, produces babycare products, mainly for export to other European countries. Almost all its activities will move to Philips’ plant in Drachten, the Netherlands, which already employs around 2,000 workers.
“We have announced the proposal after careful consideration, and over the next period, we will work closely with the impacted colleagues on next steps,” said Neil Mesher, CEO of Philips UK & Ireland.
“The UK is an important market for us, and we will continue to invest in our commercial organization and innovation programs in the country.”
Once a sprawling conglomerate, Philips has transformed itself into a health technology specialist in recent years, shedding its consumer electronics and lighting divisions.
The firm has previously warned that Brexit would put Britain’s status as a manufacturing hub at risk.
Chief Executive Frans van Houten last year said that without a customs union — which has been ruled out by Prime Minister Theresa May — Philips would have to rethink its manufacturing footprint.
Britain is set to leave the EU on March 29, and politicians are at an impasse over how to do so after lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected May’s proposed withdrawal agreement on Tuesday.
Other firms have moved jobs out of Britain in recent weeks, sparking alarm among lawmakers that Brexit is impacting corporate decision-making.
Jaguar Land Rover has slashed UK jobs — mainly due to lower Chinese demand and a slump in European diesel sales — while Ford has said it will slash thousands of jobs as part of its turnaround plan.
While both decisions were driven by factors other than Brexit, each firm has also been vocal in warning of the risks of no-deal Brexit, where Britain leaves abruptly in March without a transition period.