KFAS News

Women Leader Conference concludes with call for ‘Hope, Persistence, and Commitment’

October 26, 2017

The 10th conference of Women Leaders in Science, Technology, and Engineering concluded yesterday, with participants call for “Hope, Persistence, and Commitment”. The conference was held at the Arab Organizations Building, and organized by KFAS in cooperation with Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the U.S. State Department, and Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development.

Among the attendees were some of the most notable women scientists and researchers whose contributions in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics created a great impact on their fields locally and globally. Ten years after the first conference was held in Kuwait with great success, the scientists shared their success stories inspiring up-and-coming women professionals.

Princess Sumaya bint Al Hassan, President of the Royal Scientific Society in Jordan, and Sheikha Lubna Al Qasim, who played a notable role in implementation of e-government in UAE, as well as Rima Khalaf, the ex-executive secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) were among the distinguished speakers at the conference.

One of the success stories that inspired the attendees was that of Professor Samira Islam, the first woman vice dean in a Saudi university. Islam calls herself a graduate of the “Kuttab institutions”, which paved the way for girls' formal education in Saudi Arabia.

Not less inspiring was the story of Professor Salwa Al Hazza, who took the center stage and told the story of her father, who insisted his daughters should complete their modern education despite strong opposition from his conservative family. The people at the small village she grew up in repeatedly expressed their strong resentment over her appearance on TV shows. However, when she was finally accredited as a leading woman in the healthcare field, they started asking when will she be on TV again.

Professor Samira Omar, first woman to be named the Director General of Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), also told the attendees about her ambition for a ‘Green Kuwait’. She recalled her best birthday gift, when her father bought her a microscope at her 16th birthday, adding that she still uses it to help her granddaughter in her science activities.

Participants represented variety of scientific disciplines. They, however, were united upon the call for hope, persistence, and commitment, because “failure is the back door to success,” according to Astrobiology Professor Kim Binsted from University of Hawaii.

Young women’s access to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines and representation in top echelons of leadership are negatively affected by social stereotyping, so abolishing such ideas would benefit young women. Emily Levesque, an assistant professor in astrophysics at University of Washington, proves the idea; noting that she was raised with a belief that her focus on science came naturally, because she “was a scientist before being a woman.”

Professor Faiza Al-Kharafi, head of conference’s higher committee and board member of KFAS, announced that the three days of proceedings concluded with the following recommendations:

  • Integration of science, technology, and innovation with policymaking in order to have the impact on society.
  • Attracting public participation to motivate and support engagement of young female professionals in scientific disciplines.
  • Promotion of regional and global social networks, such as launching a network of Women Leaders in Science, Technology, and Engineering.
  • Capacity building of scientific information to conduct community dialogue on the importance of science and its role in community well-being.
  • Fostering international cooperation mechanism to accelerate scientific progress, leading to community well-being.
  • Building supportive environment of guidance, direction, and building leadership capacity.
  • Advancing towards dynamic participation of research and development to address regional challenges.

At the close of the conference the women scientists agreed to renew their commitment, again in Kuwait, to continue seeking more robust and advanced platform for future of women engaged in scientific disciplines.