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Tribune News Network
The French Embassy and the French Business Council (FBC), in cooperation with HEC Paris in Qatar, hosted panel discussions with prominent women from Qatar and France, under the theme ‘Break the Bias’.
Sponsored by HEC Paris in Qatar, L’Occitane, Paris Saint-Germain, and TotalEnergies, the women’s event took place on March 9 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, with eight key contributors from Qatar’s business, Education, Culture and Art sectors addressing two panel discussions moderated by Shaheena Janjuha-Jivraj, associate professor at HEC Paris in Qatar and an expert in innovation, leadership and diversity.
“The event was the launchpad for a reimaging of a gender equal world,” said the French Ambassador to Qatar HE Jean-Baptiste Faivre. “The discussions were very deep and fruitful and the interaction with the audience gave an added value to the event, especially after the pandemic restrictions that prevented all sorts of gatherings. I had the occasion to meet amazing women from Qatar today from various domains, ranging formats, to science and innovation, business and engineering. Happy women’s Day to all!”
The French Ambassador for Sport, Laurence Fischer, highlighted on this occasion the power of sports in gaining self-confidence and self-esteem. She also emphasised that the development of women sports is essential to achieve gender equality.
Professor Janjuha-Jivraj said the 2022 International Women’s Day celebration – important as the first live and in person event since the pandemic – drew a highly enthusiastic response and lively discussion. “The theme for IWD2022 is ‘Break the Bias’ and the achievements of panel members demonstrate the power and impact when women take on leadership roles. The range of panellists during the event demonstrates the diversity of female leadership and present a wider profile of role models to strengthen the pipeline of female leaders within Qatar,” she said.
In the first panel discussion, women business leaders explored the biases still holding women back in their career progression, how individuals can proactively challenge workplace bias and the impact of the pandemic in reinforcing greater inequalities for women. Panellists included HEC Pairs alumna Abeer Al Hammadi, director of Innovation and Economic Development at Qatar Foundation; Maryam Al-Bishri, the head of Subsurface Asset Planning; Q-SPE Board member chairing the Women in Energy chapter; Marie Planckaert, Vice President Geoscience and Reservoir at TotalEnergies; and Abeer Hassan ME Abuhelaiqa, Reservoir Engineer, Founder & Vice Chairperson of Qatar Women Engineers Association (QWEA).
“We know that representation matters, so hearing these amazing Qatari and French women who have succeeded in their careers is key to inspire the younger generations. But when I approached Professor Shaheena to moderate the event, we both immediately agreed on this important message: it is not enough to fight for yourself, women must support each other’s if we really want the situation to evolve rapidly,” explained Sandrine Lescaroux, managing director of the FBC in Qatar.
The second panel, which focused on Education, Culture and Art, examined the biases holding back women in the art world. Panel participants were Fatma Al Remaihi, CEO of the Doha Film Institute; Dana Al Fardan, contemporary composer, songwriter and symphonic artist; Dr Buthaina Al Ansari, entrepreneur, founder and Chairperson of Tamkeen Training and Consulting Solutions; and the French-Guinean journalist Folly Bah-Thibault, Founder of ‘Elle ira à l’école’ which promotes the education of young girls from disadvantaged families in Guinea.
Concluding the event, Efi Frager, the head of the Economic Department of the French Embassy, highlighted that “these fruitful discussions paved the way for deeper exchanges on gender equality and women empowerment through further events in the coming months.”
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