A+ A-

Kuwaiti academic leads int'l initiative to help female ministers worldwide

Vijitha Eyango, Resident Executive Director of the initiative in UCLA
Vijitha Eyango, Resident Executive Director of the initiative in UCLA

By Bader Al-Sharhan

KUWAIT, Dec 20 (KUNA) -- Dr. Haila Al-Mukaimi, a political sciences professor at Kuwait University (KU), will be leading an international initiative to provide best practices for female ministers from around the globe to deal with challenges they face when they assume their portfolios.
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) selected Al-Mukaimi last June to be chair and Executive Director of "women in leadership and government" initiative, primarily backed by UCLA's Anderson School of Management, as well as the International Development Studies faculty.
Female ministers, particularly those taking over portfolios for the first time, have no networks of contacts, no support, no resources and no forum to exchange expertise regarding a ministerial job, Vijitha Eyango, Resident Executive Director of the initiative in UCLA, said.
Therefore, the initiative will provide knowledge on how to create a network, who is doing what in the ministry and, for example, how to present a budget for the Prime Minister or head of state at end of the year, Eyango told KUNA in an interview.
The main objectives of the initiative, endorsed during a World Bank Forum held in Washington D.C. in April 2016, is to provide for female ministers more professional training, networking, exchange of best practices and exposure to state-of-art methods in the sectors they work in, said Eyango.
The initiative, officially launched last June, is specially targeting first time ministers around the world, she added.
Eyango said the idea of the initiative was developing in her mind for some years.
She discussed the initiative with Dr. Al-Mukaimi when they met in Cambodia in June 2016. Both were attending a forum on women CEOs organized by the German government and the Asian Development Bank.
Al-Mukaimi, the only person from the Gulf, was invited by the World Bank to talk about how to deal with leadership and gender.
Al-Mukaimi, showing keen interest, was the right selection to lead the initiative considering her academic background and as one of the activists who worked on women suffrage in Kuwait in early 2000 until women got political rights in 2005, said Eyango.
The initiative, linked with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030, "is a demand-driven need, it is an opportunity for her (Al-Mukaimi) to move this forward in partnership with us," she said.
The initiative will be driven by the Gulf, said Eyango, and Kuwait, acting as a neutral ground, is driven by its mediation role, humanitarian response and strategic engagement. "We have a nurturing environment in Kuwait, she added.
Eyango said the initiative's structure consists of: virtual data base for information and research that would steer the agenda, forming a global advisory committee, and organizing a three-day meeting for 20 female ministers to talk about important issues like education.
Al-Mukaimi will be managing the structure and she is in the process of identifying global advisory committee members.
Al-Mukaimi, for her part, said Kuwait has become a major contributor to human development.
Speaking to KUNA, she said the initiative could serve women at the academic level, as well as promoting awareness about women empowerment.
"The initiative is in the implementation phase. We need time to reach out to people about the initiative," she said.
She set a timeframe of 2-3 years to get the support of the political leadership of Kuwait "which was highly interactive with us since we launched the initiative last June." Al-Mukaimi said she "like to work in this global space, and this is where Kuwait lies. It is a blessing, makes me productive. We can come up with new ideas to improve women," and push them from participation to engagement.
Al-Mukaimi gave Kuwait the credit for her selection. "Definitely I am giving Kuwait the credit. Kuwait is a democratic country, it is open, and women have rights, the country known for its mediating role. We are in a good position to select Kuwait as a starting point". (end) bs