H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al Thani, Chairman of Ooredoo, has been appointed to the World Bank Group Advisory Council on Gender and Development, a major global body dedicated to promoting gender equality around the world.
His appointment – the first for a representative from the Middle East – reflects Ooredoo’s on-going engagement in women’s emancipation initiatives across its footprint, and also His Excellency’s personal engagement with these issues.
Globally, women are more economically excluded than men, with their workforce participation rate stagnating from 57 to 55 percent over the past 30 years, according to the February 2014World Bank Group report, “Gender at Work: A Companion to the World Development Report on Jobs”. Workforce differences are more striking in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), where employment participation is 60 percent for men, but only 38 percent for women, according to statistics compiled by Ooredoo.
H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al Thani, Chairman, Ooredoo, thanked the World Bank Group for his appointment, and said: “As we have just marked International Women’s Day, we need to reflect on mobile technology’s role in opening new opportunities for women. Too often, women do not have equal access to mobile technology or mobile literacy, and this is an issue that all companies in our industry must address.”
“Ooredoo supports the development of human growth in all its aspects, with a particular focus on the empowerment of women. In both my role on the World Bank Group Advisory Council on Gender and Development and through our work at Ooredoo, we will strive to support bold initiatives that ensure that women can deploy mobile technology to enhance their daily lives,” he added.
Employment can bring gains for women, their families, businesses, and the wider community, with the “Gender at Work” report suggesting that higher female employment could have a direct impact on GDP, particularly in emerging markets.
MENA women said ICT is a key enabler for them to enter the workforce, according to Ooredoo’s landmark “New Horizons” report, which surveyed more than 10,500 MENA youth. Ninety percent of women said the Internet encourages them to be more entrepreneurial, and 91 percent said the Internet helps them in their daily lives.
As a Council member, H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al Thani will serve a two-year renewable term, joining senior government representatives, private sector leaders, and experts and civil society leaders in economics and gender and development.
Ooredoo has seen strong success for life-enhancing mobile services focusing on women in the Middle East, North Africa, and South-East Asia, especially in Iraq, Indonesia, Algeria, and Qatar.
Ooredoo is not only giving women the tools to start their own business, but is also directly investing in their employment - especially in low-income communities in rural areas where women often face barriers to employment. In Indonesia, Ooredoo’s company Indosat is working with social enterprise RumaPulsato enable entrepreneurs to become sales agents for Indosat products. This not only boosts women’s income and improves the lives of their families, but also strengthens the communities, as women prefer to shop from other women.
In Myanmar, Ooredoo is set to launch a leading 3G network later in 2014, and is partnering with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women to provide retail employment opportunities to approximately 30,000 women entrepreneurs by 2016.Ooredoo also recently received a GSMA Foundation grant to launch a mobile maternal health service in Myanmar.
H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al Thani concluded: “We are in the middle of a generational shift in which men everywhere want their daughters, female relatives, spouses and friends to be employed. Companies have an ethical duty and business imperative to support women’s employment, as women drive economic growth. Together, we can make a long-lasting difference for women, their families, and their communities.”