New Age Islam
Thu Dec 03 2020, 10:16 PM

Islam, Women and Feminism ( 29 Oct 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

First-Ever Fitness Club for Women Opens in Kabul
















Fitness club for women opens in Kabul

 

First-Ever Fitness Club for Women Opens in Kabul

With Every Turn of a Wrench, Jordanian Woman Breaks Barriers

Emirati Model Breaks Taboos

Heena Sidhu Is Right; Muslim Nations Can't Have Double Standards

Iraq: Hundreds of Foreign Female Terrorists Driving ISIL's Suicide Vehicles

KEO International Consultants’ Donna Sultan on leadership and women in the workplace

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/new-age-islam-news-bureau/first-ever-fitness-club-for-women-opens-in-kabul/d/108954

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First-Ever Fitness Club for Women Opens in Kabul

By IANS October 30, 2016

Kabul: The first-ever fitness club for women has opened in Kabul with the objective of promoting health and sports among women in Afghanistan's traditionally patriarchal society.

"It was my life's ambition to open this club -- Blue Moon Fitness Club -- and serve women like me and it cost me $20,000," the club's owner, Tahmina Mahid Nuristani, told Xinhua nws agency on Sunday.

 "Afghanistan is a conservative society, but in defiance of this, I opened the club nearly two months ago, with the hope of contributing to female empowerment here," Nuristani, 20, said.

 In conservative Afghanistan society where people, especially in rural areas, deeply believe in tribal traditions, some of which include prohibiting girls from going to school or working outside home, opening a fitness club for girls is a particularly brave move, especially for a female and took a great deal of courage.

 "My sole aim of opening the club is to support the women's cause and to encourage them to come out of their houses, go to sports clubs and exercise," Nuristani asserted.

 Although Afghanistan has made tremendous achievements since the collapse of the Taliban regime in late 2001 and Afghan athletes have brought medals home from regional and international tournaments, including from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics, the percentage of female sports-persons is almost zero, mostly because of traditions and cultural barriers.

 "Men on the roads harass me everyday as I travel to and from the fitness club," Rukhsar Habibzai, 19, a club member, said. She added that the men even go as far as to throw stones and hurl abusive language at her as she rides her bicycle to the club, just because she is a female.

 "Even though these ignorant, sexist men with extreme views are trying to intimidate me from going to the fitness club, I am determined to continue my practice," Habibzai added.

 The teenager has been a member of the National Women's Cyclist Association for more than three years and is currently practicing yoga at the fitness club.

 "With courage and determination, we Afghan women can overcome the harmful traditions and cultural barriers to prove and elevate our existence in society," she said.

 Although women's social status in Afghanistan has been improving and women are currently engaged in politics, business, arts and other pursuits previously prohibited, many families still do not allow their female members to work outside of home.

 The private fitness club, which opened 45 days ago, is rapidly gaining popularity among female sports enthusiasts and its members are on a constant rise, despite a backlash from traditional male quarters, according to Fakhria Ibrahim, a yoga instructor.

 "Since the club opened, 50 women and girls have registered and regularly practice yoga, body building and other exercises, and the number is consistently rising in the face of traditional restrictions," Ibrahim said.

Source: newsx.com/world/45108-first-ever-fitness-club-for-women-opens-in-kabul?utm_source=pushengage&utm_medium=push_notification&utm_campaign=pushengage

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With Every Turn of a Wrench, Jordanian Woman Breaks Barriers

By KARIN LAUB Associated Press

ZARQA, Jordan • It is graduation day, and Maryam Mutlaq is celebrating her transformation from stay-at-home mom to licensed plumber.

Mutlaq, 41, describes her business plan in a clear, strong voice to the other graduates, all veiled women. She plans to open a plumbing store and sell pipes and spare parts. She’s even picked out a name, Challenge, and a location in an up-and-coming neighbourhood.

It has been a challenge just to come this far in an ultra-conservative community where many women don’t work at all outside the home. The coming months will determine if, against the odds, she can turn her bold dream into a real-life business. For now, she is brimming with optimism.

“We will break down the barriers that have been put up, that say we aren’t capable of doing things as women,” she says.

Mutlaq’s choice is rare for the Arab world, where traditional gender roles make men the main breadwinners and confine many women to jobs such as teaching and nursing. Five years ago, the Arab Spring brought the hope of more opportunities for women. Yet that promise has not panned out, analysts and activists say.

Only about a quarter of women in the Arab world work outside the home, the lowest percentage in the world.

Jordan in turn scores far below the regional average of female labor force participation, with just over 14 percent. Unemployment is a separate measure, with higher rates for women than men in most of the region.

Female CEOs and entrepreneurs have emerged across the region, but they still constitute a small group.

The International Labor Organization calculates that with more job equality, Jordan’s economy would grow by 5 percent, or almost $2 billion. But Zarqa, a gritty industrial city with a high unemployment rate, is one of toughest places in Jordan, and perhaps even in the region, for women trying to tear down barriers.

“Society is very conservative and is getting more and more conservative,” says Zarqa Mayor Emad Momani. “We are far from seeing women in nontraditional jobs like plumbers or truck drivers.”

Mutlaq got involved in 2014 in the plumbers’ project, funded by the Millennium Challenge Corp., a U.S. government aid agency, to save water by preventing leakage. Under strict rules of gender separation, it’s easier for female plumbers to conduct home visits, because male plumbers cannot enter homes where housewives are alone.

Mutlaq was initially skeptical, but her husband Samir, who works in a flower shop, thought it was worth a try. The family, struggling from month to month, could also use a second income.

Her four children fiercely opposed the idea. The youngest, Lara, 12, was so embarrassed that she begged her mother to take off her green plumber’s work vest during a parent-teacher meeting. Mutlaq kept it on to show her daughter that she’s proud of herself.

Mutlaq discovered during training that she loved handling tools and fixing things. Even when she was off the clock, she carried a few tools in her gray purse, in case a neighbor or relative needed a bit of plumbing “first aid.” After a few months, she started going on house calls as assistant to a contractor.

By graduation day in March, Mutlaq’s children have come around. Sami, 19, is glad his mother can contribute to the family finances. Fatmeh, 22, even joins the community outreach program for a few months. And Lara excitedly unpacks Mutlaq’s graduation prize — a 40-piece professional plumbers’ tool kit — in the family living room.

Two weeks later, Mutlaq is getting ready for work. She pulls a baseball cap over her headscarf and the green vest over a loose, long-sleeved T-shirt and pants.

The first stop for the day is Lara’s school, where Mutlaq begins to remove an old faucet in the girls’ toilets. Her fellow plumber, Ibrahim Asmar, says she does well on everything that doesn’t require heavy lifting. She can do 70 percent of the tasks expected of a plumber, he says.

Lara is eager to see her mother in full work gear and embraces her in the hallway. She says she now likes everything about her mother’s job, and especially the tools. She wants to work in Mutlaq’s shop and take a salary.

But Mutlaq still faces plenty of criticism. Her oldest brother is a hold-out, telling her women have no business being plumbers.

At the local mosque down the street from Mutlaq’s house, preacher Akram al-Boureini says roles are clear in Islam: Men provide for the family and women raise children at home. Plumbing is “suitable only for men, not for women,” he says. If women take over jobs intended for men, “we face unemployment and moral corruption.”

By the end of March, the plumbing project is winding down. Mutlaq is starting to worry about the future. She has pinned all her hopes on getting a grant.

“I’m scared that I will end up sitting at home,” she says.

Small jobs for relatives and neighbors don’t pay off. She can’t charge much in her low-income neighborhood and is expected to give discounts to relatives. She has the extra cost of taking taxis to assignments because she doesn’t drive, and her husband needs the family car for his job.

Back home, Mutlaq flips through her work book — a white notepad listing her recent assignments — to underscore the point. She’s charged between 5 and 10 dinars ($7 to $14) per home visit, barely worth her time.

Such obstacles are familiar to Jordan’s first female plumber, 53-year-old Khawla Sheikh, who earned her license in 2006.

“So many people did not support me,” she says. “The only ones were my husband and my family.”

Sheikh formed a cooperative of 18 female plumbers last year to help women with difficulties like launching their own business with no car or start-up funds. The women go on house calls in pairs, for safety.

In late May, Mutlaq is anxious. She needs a grant.

At a meeting hosted by an international aid group, 12 other women are handed checks of 300 dinars ($425) each. Mutlaq gets nothing. She is angry and dejected, and even thinks of selling her tool kit.

“It was a big dream, but it’s been destroyed,” she says.

But by early July, she has bounced back. She applies for a grant from USAID, a U.S. government agency, and expects to hear by the fall. In the meantime, she’s renting out some of her tools, doing small plumbing jobs and going on assignments with one of her brothers, also a plumber.

She still wants to open a business one day, but says the journey has already been worthwhile.

“This was the chance of a lifetime,” she says. “The way I look at life has changed. The way I look at myself has changed, too.”

http://www.stltoday.com/news/national/with-every-turn-of-a-wrench-jordanian-woman-breaks-barriers/article_11740f55-86cd-5ded-b8ad-e939c979882b.html

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Emirati Model Breaks Taboos

Sunday 30 October 2016

DUBAI: In a flowing scarlet dress, Rafeea al-Hajsi fulfilled a dream by becoming the first Emirati model to strut the Arab Fashion Week catwalk after years battling social constraints.

“It’s amazing to be on the catwalk... a lovely feeling,” she said. “I enjoy it with all my heart.”

As she prepared to model two dresses by Lebanese designer Aiisha Ramadan, the model said excitement, fear and happiness all come together when she faces the audience.

“When I see the lights on my face, life lights up with the feeling that international fame is ahead,” she said.

A curvy brunette with long hair, a square jaw and light brown eyes, her passion for being on camera was obvious, even backstage.

Surrounded by make-up artists and overwhelming Western models, she posed for the cameras in a black mini-dress, casting sultry looks.

Her phone never left her hand as she took selfies, uploaded clips, and streamed live video.

“Even if I keep working 24 hours, I have no problem at all with modelling,” she said.

She said she faced many obstacles in a conservative Muslim society where most local women cover themselves from head to toe in black abaya robes.

“I consider myself a very courageous girl to be in this field,” she said. “It was very difficult for me to become a model, especially as an Emirati.”

Hajsi started off modelling traditional local costumes. She declined to give her age, but said she had to wait years for society to “open up a little”.

“It took around eight years for you to see me standing here in front of you,” she said.

After five years of modelling local clothes, she started presenting radio and television shows, which opened up opportunities to move ahead in the world of fashion.

Hajsi’s first appearance at a fashion show was earlier this year in France, when she modelled for Lebanese designer Ziad Nakad at Paris Fashion Week.

She then appeared at the opening of the third Arab Fashion Week, which takes place twice yearly.

She took to the catwalk to model a long red one-sleeved dress and another off-shoulder black gown – both from Aiisha Ramadan’s Spring-Summer 2017 collection.

The designer, also Lebanese, said her varied and colourful dresses were inspired by trips to amusement parks with her two-year-old daughter.

She said Hajsi’s fuller figure made her stand out from super-thin fashion models, meaning women could relate to her.

Hajsi “has a waist,” she said. “To me, this is my client. Rafeea represents the beautiful Arab girl.”

“We made her wear something very simple to show that the Arab girl knows how to dress in something simple and how it suits her.”

She agreed that Arab models often face barriers keeping them out of the fashion world.

“For the model to become international, she needs to reveal a lot of her body and this can be unacceptable in (Arab) culture,” the designer said.

Hajsi admitted that she keeps society in mind when considering modelling offers, saying she has turned many down because of the revealing designs.

“There are limits that I always consider,” she said.

“It’s painful. Sometimes there is a dress I really like and which the designer wants me to wear, but I can’t because the design is not suitable for our society.

“I sacrifice international fashion shows that are great opportunities for me, just to be considerate towards our society and my family,” she said.

But she added that Arab Fashion Week showed Emirati society was becoming more open towards fashion.

“I fought many things in my life as a model,” she said. “As you can see, I’ve reached a level where I am satisfied.”

She flashed a big smile and headed off to pose for a nearby photographer.

http://www.thephuketnews.com/emirati-model-breaks-taboos-59630.php#ZKpZozF6cSDciWAz.99

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Heena Sidhu Is Right; Muslim Nations Can't Have Double Standards

30-10-2016

In a bold move, former world number one pistol-shooter and defending champion Heena Sidhu has decided to withdraw from the Asian Airgun Shooting Championship to be held in Iran in December, citing compulsory Hijab rule for all women athletes.

“Women's clothing in the shooting range and public places is required to conform to the rules and regulations of I. R. Iran,” the website of the tournament reads.

According to media reports, Sidhu wrote to the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) three weeks back. On Saturday, in a series of tweets, she confirmed reports of skipping the tournament, adding that she is “not a revolutionary”, but feels that “making it mandatory for even a sportsperson to wear hijab is not in the spirit of a sport.” And Sidhu is right.

Shia Iran is not the only country to impose such a dress code, conservative Sunni Saudi Arabia is another country where even foreigners are asked to wear a closed cloak (abaya) and a headscarf (hijab) in public. Countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia have continued with a regressive dress code even for visiting foreign delegations, tourists and athletes despite international hue and cry over cultural sensitivity and religious values.

In January 2015, US First Lady Michelle Obama had caused outrage in Saudi Arabia by not wearing a headscarf during her formal visit with President Barack Obama. Saudis, and many other Muslims, had used Twitter then to express their disapproval with the hashtags #Michelle_Obama_Immodest and #Michelle_Obama_NotVeiled.

Agreed, that foreigners who are visiting these orthodox countries too need to be mindful of the conservative nature of many Muslim nations. Websites of the tourism department of most Muslim-majority countries note that both men and women are advised to dress “modestly” in public, in trousers and full shirts or such clothes that cover their body mostly.

Men are advised against wearing half pants or going bare-chested in public and women against wearing short skirts or “swimming attire in public areas”. Countries like the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, etc. have a more relaxed dress code and at tourist beaches and resorts, men and women have relative freedom in choosing what to wear or not wear. 

One of the reasons the Holy Quran wanted Muslim women to draw a loose garment from the head is that “they will be known (to be Muslim women) and not be abused.” (Quran: 33:59) Thus the hijab was supposed to distinguish Muslim women from non-Muslims. But even if a Muslim believes that women who do not cover their head are “sinning”, they have no right to impose their faith or choice on non-believers in the 21st century.

Nothing justifies forcible head-covering for tourists, not just at religious places but everywhere in public, that too for athletes who come to participate in multinational sporting events. It is in contravention of basic principles of human rights, that all of us always give reference to when defending a woman's right to choose a hijab or burkini in the west.

In January 2015, Michelle Obama had caused outrage in Saudi Arabia by not wearing a headscarf during her formal visit with US President Barack Obama. (Photo credit: Reuters)

What is more hypocritical though is that many Muslim rights activists, even those who are not from those countries, and who otherwise write and campaign against France or any western country’s forcible imposition of certain kind of dress codes in schools, offices, public places or beaches generally go silent on the issue or even if they resent the mandatory headscarf, it’s in a meek voice. Compare the reaction to this news with that when some districts in France banned the burkini on beaches.

Many of them seem to justify the dress code in the name of religious values and the law of the land. But we must not have double standards when it comes to dealing with issues of personal freedom, religious freedom and human rights. We Muslims cannot champion the cause of human rights when in minority, but talk of Sharia when in majority.

If Iran or Saudi Arabia or any Muslim country wants the west to respect a Muslim man or woman’s right to religious freedom, freedom to wear a veil or burkini, etc. they must begin with similar "open heart" policies in their own countries for foreign tourists, delegates or expatriate workers.

The president of the NRAI was meanwhile quoted in The Times of India as saying: “We have good ties with the Iranian shooting federation and we respect their culture and tradition. Whoever goes to Iran - tourists or diplomats - wears the hijab. Except Heena, all other Indian women shooters have accepted it.”

However, the Iranians might take a lesson from Indian women kabaddi players who, in the 2014 Asian Games, had paused for a few moments to allow an Iranian rival to tie her scarf properly during the final of the game in respect of her culture, when she got uncomfortable finding her scarf displaced.

Or, from those western countries who are gradually allowing women freedom to wear a hijab even while participating in the Olympics or serving in the police even though culturally they find it against their "liberal" value system.

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/heena-sidhu-hijab-burkini-ban-asian-airgun-shooting-championship-nrai-iran/story/1/13722.html

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Iraq: Hundreds of Foreign Female Terrorists Driving ISIL's Suicide Vehicles

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The ISIL is using hundreds of female terrorists from different world countries to drive suicide vehicles of their husbands during the Mosul liberation operation by Iraq's joint military forces, media reports said.

"Most of ISIL's foreign terrorists and their wives have enrolled for suicide attacks," the Arabic-language media quoted a local force as saying.

He reiterated that a sum of 450 ISIL terrorists and their wives who are mostly French or from the former Soviet republics have registered their names to take part in the suicide missions.

"The women have been ordered to drive the bomb-laden vehicles of their husbands to help them get closer to the Iraqi troops, while their husbands spray bullets at the Iraqi forces," the source added.

Earlier on Saturday, Hashd al-Shaabi started its long-waited offensive against the ISIL West of the Northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

“The operation aims to cut supplies between Mosul and Raqqah (in Syria) and tighten the siege (against the ISIL) in Mosul and liberate (the town of) Tal Afar,” Ahmad al-Assadi, a spokesman for the forces said.

Mosul, which fell to ISIL in 2014, has been declared by the terrorist group as its so-called headquarters in Iraq. The terrorists also consider the city of Raqqah as their “headquarters” in Syria.

A large-scale military offensive has been launched to retake Mosul by the Iraqi army, volunteer Shia and Sunni fighters, and Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

The Western part of Mosul had been left open to the ISIL, potentially enabling the terrorist group’s members to move to neighboring Syria as Iraqi and Kurdish forces close in from the North, East and South.

Iraqi sources had earlier reported that the terrorists were leaving the Mosul in droves and heading to Syria.

Now with the start of operations by al-Hashd al-Shaabi in Western Mosul, the city has come under a full siege.

Iraqi security forces have been edging closer to Mosul by liberating villages around the city. Nearly 80 ISIL-held towns and villages have been retaken by the army since the Iraqi forces began the battle to liberate Mosul last week.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950808001352

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KEO International Consultants’ Donna Sultan on leadership and women in the workplace

October 30, 2016

The authors of Game Changers speak to Donna Sultan, CEO at KEO International Consultants

Donna Sultan has held the title of CEO at KEO International Consultants since 1991. The firm focuses on the delivery of planning, design, engineering and project management solutions for some of the most prestigious building and civil projects in Asia and the Middle East and North Africa region.

Sultan has more than 40 years of experience in the Middle East. Born in France, and raised in the United States, her background includes strategic planning and management consulting.

Who did you want to be when you were a child?

“I don’t recall that I ever sat down and thought about what I wanted to be. What I recall was this sense since I was a child that I aspired to be a leader—in what, was undefined.”

Are you content with your life? What else are you aspiring for, now that you have already accomplished so much?

“I am content with my life. I do appreciate and am thankful for the extraordinary life I have — both professional and personal. But on the other hand, I never feel that I have achieved all that I can.

It fuels me to focus and challenge myself more on how to propel our organisation to even greater heights of success and continue to be relevant as a part of nation- building teams. There are no limits to what you can achieve if you set your mind to it. The only limitation is your imagination and of course time. There are other aspirations outside of my professional life I have recently been thinking about, which I would like to devote more time to.”

What would you say is your most valuable asset, character trait and/or skill?

“I am blessed with an energy level that can keep up with the demands of my job. I am also a strong believer that to get anywhere in life, you have to be willing to work hard – very hard.”

Do you believe in the term ‘work–life balance’? How do you maintain it?

“Women cannot escape this profound dilemma of work life balance: always having to think about how to handle family and work demands. It’s not easy. Whatever choice you make, there are compromises and conflicts that arise. I have an amazing husband who has never believed that there was any other option but to be fully productive professionally. He has been a great support, as have my children. Having a demanding career was part of our family norm. But I also allow time for daily exercise and my passion for cooking, agriculture and gardening.”

Tell me about your career choice and path. Did you always know you would do what you are doing? Did you study for it, plan for it or was it accidental?

“Nothing was ever planned. I certainly never had a goal to be the CEO of a major professional consulting firm competing in the global market place.

“As I look back on my life, I see it being a string of taking advantage of opportunities that came to me.”

As a very successful and internationally recognised woman, what do you consider the most enjoyable and most challenging aspects of your job?

“Without hesitation I would say there are three most enjoyable parts of my job. One is when I get to participate in an actual project and be part of the creative process. It is such a high to be among amazing planning, design, engineering or management talent as they conceptualise a project, start to give form to it and develop road maps of how best to deliver a great project or services for a client.

“The other is to be in a position to stimulate or mentor the professional growth of individuals to achieving success and their full potential. And of course, the sheer joy of winning new work after hard efforts against tough competition.

“Challenges have differed over the years while being CEO. Since 2008, I would say that the most challenging part of my job is the decisions I need to take to keep the firm financially viable while not compromising the high level of service we must provide. It has been a very tough time not just for us but also for all businesses to survive the economic downturn, and while many will say there is an upswing in our markets, the reality is that there remains strong competition for work and a marketplace that is very price driven.”

What is your personal leadership style and philosophy for success?

“What I push most is the idea of organised delegation of responsibilities and authorities within a context of commonly understood boundaries and expectations. My role then is to monitor and mentor, which is my preferred way of managing people and the business.

“I try not to get in the way of the potential of those working with me or for me. My job is to support them to be successful and to increase their experience and confidence. But at times, depending on circumstances, I must also be prepared to be very much hands on. I would say my leadership style adjusts to prevailing conditions to deal with an unexpected challenge or threat that needs to be met.

“I think it is important to know when to adjust your style of management and apply what, using your best judgment, is correct to protect the interests of an organisation. However, I hope that I would be ultimately judged as having an inclusive leadership style, preferring a consultative approach.

“My philosophy for success is that it must start by having confidence in yourself and your abilities. It is a truism that people will view you as you portray yourself. If people believe that you are confident, they will entrust you with responsibilities and opportunities.”

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

“A personal ethos of modesty, not letting your ego be a driver in anything you do. A true leader realises that success is defined by the successes achieved by everyone in the organisation and the role you have to play as a facilitator of success. The second characteristic – which I think is so important – is having a genuine respect for people, no matter their social, cultural, economic or organisational status.”

Who is the person that inspired or supported you the most when you were growing up?

“My father. He never saw my gender as any kind of limitation. He dealt with me in such a way that I felt I could be an equal, intellectually, to achieve whatever it is I set out to be even from as far back as I remember as a child. One has to put context to that, we are talking about the 1950s and 1960s when role-playing was strictly preserved. He gave me space to become an independent individual and not judge my decisions. That special relationship with my father continued until he passed away. There was a profound yet unstated understanding between us, and deep mutual respect.”

Did you ever have a mentor? What role did they play?

“Yes – an exceptional one. Someone who influenced me tremendously and believed in me and my potential as a leader. Someone who was passionate about people and being a consummate professional. Someone that came along in my career at a key time when I was transitioning from a mid-level to higher managerial position. Someone I owe a great deal to as I went further into my career as an executive. He challenged me to think more broadly, to approach problem-solving with wider range of possibilities.”

How do you see the current status of Arab women as opposed to 30 years ago or 100 years ago? How do you see it evolving?

“There is no question there has been a profound change in the status of Arab women, all due to exposure to education including university degrees by both men and women in the last 30 years. With social media and the internet, there is far more dialogue on the status of women, which has had a positive impact. Speaking to my industry, there are more women entering degree programmes in architecture and engineering. Over the last 10 years I have personally seen far more women in our profession in the region, especially on the client side, taking on major roles in project delivery. And they are very good at what they do.”

What are the biggest challenges that female leaders face today?

“Regionally, it is the quality and quantity of opportunities that is available to them. Our markets are not large. The private sector has limited opportunities, often due to family-run businesses that still prevail. The alternative of government sector positions as a career path can lead to mixed results.”

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

“Overcoming prejudices and not being disadvantaged by discrimination. Another issue is that women are held to different standards in the workplace—higher standards.”

How did you break into what many consider to be an old boy network?

“By not ever seeing that being a woman was material to how well I do my job and not making it an issue in any of my dealings. The other is to be serious in what I do; it is very easy to lose reputation and credibility. Peer recognition comes from mutual respect, which is gained from hard work and remaining focussed.”

What do you do to invest in women and/or help young women rise in their careers?

“I make sure that our organisations have recruitment and mentoring policies that are colour- and gender-blind.

“The construction industry, especially the architectural and engineering consulting domains, is male-dominated. Just looking at some recent statistics in the US, women make up less than 10 per cent of the construction industry population, out of which only 10 per cent of women are executives. So, it’s not surprising that regionally we would see a similar pattern compounded by a lesser pool of available qualified female professionals. Yet I am pleased to say that women make up more than 16 per cent of KEO’s population and 25 per cent of KEO’s executives are women.”

What advice can you offer to an individual looking to start a career in your industry?

“If you can, choose the best academic programme or university that will provide you with a solid technical background and give you a head start in the recruitment of trainees. Choose your employers wisely. Know what kind of work culture and mentoring they have, and the kind of job training they provide. Choose an employer with a solid reputation and that can be a stepping-stone to greater opportunities in the future. Be prepared to put in the hours and work hard.”

Game Changers: How Women in the Arab World are Changing the Rules and Shaping the Future is published by Motivate and is available at all good retail outlets and booksarabia.com

http://gulfbusiness.com/keo-international-consultants-donna-sultan-leadership-women-workplace/

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