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How NAMA is advancing gender equity and inclusive socioeconomic growth

How NAMA is advancing gender equity and inclusive socioeconomic growth

Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, outlines the role of the entity and its affiliates

Advancing women’s capacities and skillsets to keep pace with the specialised requirements of the job or business market are essential for the economic and social development journey of the UAE. Furthering this goal will, in turn, positively impact the quality of life in society.

Reem BinKaram, director of UAE’s NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, says Emirati society is founded on the concept of partnership and mutual respect, where women enjoy great stature that is rooted in Emirati and Arab culture and heritage. “This concept gained greater prominence with the founding of the country as women were further encouraged to play a vital and influential role, and partnerships were open to all without any discrimination,” BinKaram says.

“This has enriched the role of institutions that support women as they work towards preparing human cadres to drive the future economy that relies on talents and skillsets more than financial resources,” she adds.

NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA) is a Sharjah, UAE-headquartered public non-profit organisation that believes that women are important human capital and works towards advancing them.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented uncertainties to the global economy. BinKaram says Covid-related challenges reinforce the need to empower women and communities to help rebuild tumbled economies.

“Economic awareness is integral to lead the recovery process, and both genders must support their communities in these difficult times. Development institutions, especially entities dedicated to women that seek to empower individuals in socio-economic spheres, therefore, play a pivotal role in ensuring the speedy recovery of the economy,” she adds.

“That is why NAMA Women Advancement Establishment considers the empowerment of women to be a development issue and not a gender one. Empowering women is vital to build a modern economy and achieve the aspirations of societies,” BinKaram says.

Reem BinKaram: “Women empowerment is about development, not gender”

Integrated development
NAMA works on advancing the skills and abilities of women through three affiliates – Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council (Irthi), Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC), and Badiri Education & Development Academy.

Irthi aims to empower women socially and economically through the revival and modernisation of traditional crafts, in addition to creating a sustainable future for these crafts and the artisans practicing them, through international commercial collaborations.

BinKaram says Irthi has achieved significant milestones by showcasing Emirati crafts and artisans on both local and global platforms, including an exhibition collection based on the collaboration between Bidwa artisans and international designers that was unveiled at London Design Fair 2019 and Premiere Vision’s Maison D’Exceptions in Paris in 2019.

Badiri Education & Development Academy is the education and capacity building arm of NAMA. “NAMA believes that for women to excel in their professional roles, they need to be equipped with a strong foundation of knowledge and expertise. We want women to be partners not only in implementing the work, but also excelling in planning, strategising and decision-making to enhance the socioeconomic reality,” BinKaram says.

To expand its education mandate, NAME launched Badiri E-Academy, a free, global, multilingual online educational platform built on the Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) model, to help individuals advance their skillsets and capacities at both professional and personal levels.

“During the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Badiri E-Academy hosted a series of courses and programmes to share key insights into ways on building resilience and enhancing capabilities and skills to quickly adapt to new and emerging business practices,” she says.

Through SBWC, NAMA seeks to support female-owned and led businesses, aiming to drive full integration of businesswomen in the economy and promoting a culture of sustainable female entrepreneurship in Sharjah.

“Apart from consultations, networking, and training opportunities, SBWC also conducts workshops and leads trade missions to enable members to participate in local and international events. SWBC is also on an ongoing mission to explore new venues and forge partnerships with government and private organisations in the UAE and abroad, to enable businesswomen to expand their reach into local and international markets,” BinKaram explains.

Through SWBC’s efforts, the council aims to build an enabling environment to nurture a new generation of women capable of establishing themselves in the competitive business arena equipped with relevant knowledge, expertise and advanced skills, she adds.

NAMA has forged numerous partnerships to empower women and bolster their role in the social and economic development journey.

Local partnerships and international programmes
NAMA has forged numerous partnerships to empower women and bolster their role in the social and economic development journey.

Internationally, NAMA partnered with UN Women to organise two editions of the Women’s Economic Empowerment Global Summit (WEEGS). At WEEGS 2019, NAMA launched the Elevate Platform as a global call to action for gender equity and women’s economic empowerment, and to bring companies, government entities, policymakers, and academia together on a common platform to accelerate progress. The organisation has also partnered with UN Women’s flagship programme, ‘Stimulating Equal Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs’ in South Africa, the UAE and the region. The 3-year programme targets approximately 25,000 women, especially those living in poverty and facing heightened social discrimination.

BinKaram also highlights the ‘Girls Ambassadors for Peace Programme’ launched in cooperation with the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) to empower young women and girls in conflict areas including Bangladesh and Indonesia, to be positive role models in peacebuilding as they respond to violent extremism in their communities.

“While working with girls in low-income communities, we focus on providing all that is necessary for their development, and promote the values of partnership and cooperation between the genders from various social groups to generate positive thinking and outlook and help eradicate extremism and conflicts,” she concludes.

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