CTG’s CEO Alice is a passionate campaigner for gender equality. Her role as Chair on the UAE Women’s Empowerment (WEPs) taskforce has led to her rubbing shoulders with many determined professional women, who are all united by the desire to spread the news about the importance of Women’s Empowerment.
Assia Riccio, founder of Evolvin’ Women, a social enterprise that improves the employability of women from developing countries, is one of these inspirational women determined to show the impact that gender equality can have on businesses in the UAE and encouraging businesses to sign up to WEPs.
Here Assia shares why she believes women’s empowerment is so important.
Why is helping to bring about women’s empowerment so important to you?
I was born in Italy to a family of philanthropists, and from an early age we were taught to always do what we could to help those less fortunate than us. Some of my most vivid memories are of my parents relentlessly pursuing initiatives all over the world to support those in need, from paying for the education of children with limited resources to inviting neighbours for lunch who could not afford a hot meal. To this day, I am still so motivated by the values they instilled in me, and inspired by the stories of the people they helped and the impact it made on their communities.
What is the UAE WEPs Taskforce hoping to achieve?
The taskforce brings together a group of passionate individuals who believe in the role of the private sector in creating gender equality. It is a joint effort to promote WEPs in the region, their implementation in the private sector with specific focus on key elements integral to promoting gender equality in the workplace, marketplace and community. We are aiming at signing up over 150 companies to WEPs within 12 months through B2B, events and strategic partnerships. The first event is taking place the 7th March – we hope to see you there.
The taskforce brings together a group of passionate individuals who believe in the role of the private sector in creating gender equality.
What would your one piece of advice be to companies or organisations wanting to implement WEPs?
I would advise companies to look at what they are currently doing within their organisation and use the online benchmarking tools. Many companies will be surprised by how much they already do and WEPs is a way to bring those best practices to life, share them and inspire others to follow their example.
Your advice to the next generation of women entering the workforce?
As women, we have so much power to influence gender equality by just entering the workforce with the aim to increase the number of women in leadership roles.
Evolvin Women is about giving women development opportunities that they otherwise would not have access to. Has there been a mentor or someone who gave you an opportunity that you are grateful for in your career?
Coming from a very conservative part of Italy, I am so grateful to my parents who provided me with the opportunity to both study and work abroad, opportunities not available to young girls from my town when I was growing up. When I joined the workforce I was also very fortunate to be mentored by incredible individuals who believed in my capabilities, took a chance on me and directed me to career opportunities I would have missed otherwise.
How is empowering women evident in the work that you do?
At Evolvin’ Women we believe that the provision of more education, skills training and access to business networks, together with resources that will allow women in developing countries to secure work experience in an international setting, will lead to improved employment opportunities for them in their countries.
Everything we do at Evolvin’ Women is aimed at enabling women in developing countries to grow professionally, gain international work experience and return to their towns where they can bring back the knowledge and skills they have gained and add that value to their family, community and country.
We don’t measure our success by the number of women attending our programmes, but by the number of better opportunities they receive as a result of the learning and international exposure, whether this is a promotion, a better job or an employment opportunity that was not previously available to them.
Is there a successful woman who inspires you?
There are many! Above all Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama are women I look up to for their philanthropist work and genuine interest in gender equality and inclusion.
If you were sitting next to them for coffee what would you want to ask them?
I would ask them to join our Advisory Board and become Ambassadors for Evolvin’ Women and help us reach as many women as possible for a greater social impact. A bit cheeky but I guess you don’t get a second chance to meet them!
I look forward to being in the same room with people who share my passion for women’s empowerment
What are you most looking forward to at the UAE WEPs launch on 7th March?
The launch looks to recognize our WEPs taskforce members that have voluntarily committed their time and energy to the cause. I look forward to being in the same room with people who share my same passion for women’s empowerment.
What do you hope that guests at the event take away from the launch?
The launch is a celebration of what the taskforce has achieved so far and I really hope everyone attending will be inspired and at the same time feel energised about the initiatives planned for this year. Join us on the 7th March! Details below.
If you would like to attend the Official Launch of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Taskforce event for the UAE Global Compact Local Network on 7th March, please email email@example.com.
To find out more about the UAE WEPS and how to get your company or organisation signed up, email firstname.lastname@example.org or if you are a CEO in the UAE sign your public commitment here http://weprinciples.org/Site/CeoStatement
To find out more about WEPs UAE visit http://ungcuae.org/women-empowerment-principles-weps/