Arab women come of digital age

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More Arab women are now empowered with the technologies of the digital age with several institutions looking after their welfare making efforts in this regard.

In Qatar, the Supreme Council for Information and Communication Technology (ictQatar) is vigorously empowering women with technology through e-business and e-literacy programmes.

Women leaders in the Gulf and from global institutions were told this yesterday at the “Advancing Arab Women in Technology Workshop” hosted by ictQatar at the Millennium Hotel.

The two-day workshop brought together more than 40 experts on women in technology from the Middle East and the United States with the aim of moving forward with plans to create a Center for Women and Technology for the Arab Region (CWTAR). Inputs of the workshop would help organisers set up the CWTAR by the end of this year.

Dr Hessa Al Jaber, ictQatar Secretary General, said ictQatar had given priority to promoting e-literacy, especially among non-working women, by providing at least 500 participants computer skills training last year, at the same time helping women in small and medium-sized businesses realise the value of incorporating ICT into their business plans.

“Because of ICT, women can actively participate in every sphere of life, if we choose. Because of ICT, we can change our countries, and world, if we choose,” said Dr Jaber in her speech during the opening ceremony.

Another speaker, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, Vice Chair of UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development, cited 14 salient points about the significant role of empowered women in ICT and about modern trends in education.

He, however, underscored culture as an issue for women in the Arab world because of restrictions on their mobility. “Online education can be key to empowering them, only that there are still no sufficient resources available for online Arabic education,” he said.

The UN official also pointed out the challenges involved in empowering women only when access to technology is available, and the issue of women being under-represented in the ICT workforce even in developed countries.

On a brighter note, Abu-Ghazaleh said the women of today, like in the case of Saudi women who he said are more productive than men, “are more accomplished, so that they don’t need to be empowered.”

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