Communication - Presse

Focus on empowering women in business in Bahrain

Empowering innovative women in the field of entrepreneurship and discussing the necessary support available in Bahrain were part of an event held yesterday.

It was hosted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) and the Supreme Council for Women (SCW) in partnership with the Bahrain Businesswomen Society at Riyadat Mall in A’ali.

The discussion was titled ‘Bahraini Women in the Field of Innovation in Entrepreneurship, Supporting the Fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals’, and directly correlated to SGDs Number Nine, which is about industry, innovation and infrastructure, and Number Five, which is about gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Among the speakers were Amina Al Hawaj, Bahrain’s first female inventor, and Huda Janahi, a female pioneer in the country’s cargo industry.

They discussed the importance of being self-motivated in order to create success and the support available from the government and other entities such as Unido and Tamkeen.

Ms Janahi started her journey to becoming a successful businesswoman around 15 years ago when she started Global Cargo and Traveller Services, which was started with a capital of BD1,000.

She ran the business single-handedly from an office in a small rented space in Muharraq.

“I started from zero – there was a time in 2001 when I was turned down by government offices saying that the (cargo) business was not for women,” she said.

“I went to Unido and with their help I managed to convince authorities, and the law was with me as there is no rule that some businesses are not for women.

“This shows that (women) can do it – I think that the issue is with the women who easily give up.

“Women should be self-motivated and they should be aware of the support structure and should have the will and determination.

“Help is available, both to men and women, and it is up to us to target it.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Ms Al Hawaj, who invented a life-changing physiotherapy machine – a lower limb rehabilitation device called Stamina – and went on to establish MOMKIN in Europe in 2008, a company that focuses on research and development, product manufacturing and medical innovation. “I think there should not be gender discrimination, as we are all the same – but there are challenges we have to face ourselves as women,” she told the GDN.

“You are the first challenge that you have to face we – I was raised in a good family and well educated, but the motivation was from myself.

“We should think as to how we can add value to our society and community, and otherwise, sorry to say – you are just an extra load.

“Not that everybody should be an inventor or innovator, but we should be responsible beyond our family, we should have valuable stories to pass on to inspire.”

In June 2016, she was invited by then US President Barack Obama to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford University to speak about her journey.

“Ten years ago I achieved my goal of my first invention, a special device to ease pain of patients on rehabilitation,” she said.

“It was not easy, there were ups and down, and the journey was full of struggles with people who believed in me and those who did not.

“However, it helped me achieve my goal and it fetched me the title of being the first female Bahraini inventor and today I have many more to my credit.”

Other speakers at the event were Unido Bahrain head Dr Hashim Hussein, Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry board member Sonya Janahi and Bahraini entrepreneur Yahya Al Ansari.

Feedback from the event will be utilised to enrich the framework of SCW in the fields of gender equality in the sectors of innovation and sustainable development.



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