Statement by Dr Sonia Ben Jaafar, Chief Executive Officer of Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education.
“In light of International Women’s Day, and in line with this year’s theme of #ChooseToChallenge, the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education (AGFE) joins the world in celebration of the tremendous achievements of women, challenging all forms of gender inequality, and especially highlighting a focus on their right to access quality education.
“For anyone who every had a doubt, this last year must be proof positive that gender equality is central to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Women have stood out at the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, as scientists, health care workers, caregivers, innovators, community organizers and as some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combating a pandemic across the world.
“Women’s economic empowerment boosts economic growth, and gender gaps prove to be a substantial threat to socio-economy prosperity. That is why the education of women is critical for the socio-economic prosperity of communities, national recovery, and global sustainable development. Yet, the progress of underserved young women who do not have access to quality education and are underrepresented in the formal labor market is striking – especially since we are now in 2021. Moreover, in the last year, we have seen the devastating impact of COVID-19 on access to high quality education and upskilling opportunities for elevated livelihood for underserved youth. Given the new reliance on online learning and remote work, and that the digital divide remains a gendered one, we do need a special solidarity to overcome a growing challenge that can be overcome with the collective will of every single individual around the globe.
“At AGFE our mission is to elevate the livelihoods of Arab youth through quality education to enable the sustainable development of the region. We are proud of the comprehensive support we were able to offer scholars rising to the challenges the pandemic posed. We know that when we help underserved young women from low-income families who only dreamed of a university education achieve their dreams, we help challenge the barriers of poverty and gender bias.
“AGFE has been providing support through its scholarship programs, facilitating access to high quality university education to over 1000 students from the Arab Region. Almost half of our scholars are female with 11% of our female scholars holding a refugee status and 29% standing out as the first generation in their families to get university education. In addition, The Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund currently caters to the advancement of young women with 55% of all program students being female. All these impressive young women are on the rise to join the workforce, contribute to society, and prove that when we challenge together, we rise above and cultivate the space for a better tomorrow.
“There has never been a more pressing time for the empowerment of women. Our goal is to continue leveraging innovative solutions to fill learning gaps for women in the region so that they can move forward in their education, cultivate their skills, and leave their unique imprint on the world.”