Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the inaugural edition of the Women Leaders in Sport and Health Forum at Abu Dhabi Ladies Club was hailed as a resounding success.
The Women Leaders in Sport and Health Forum provided an empowering platform for female leaders in the sport, well-being, education and health sectors to discuss the latest challenges, trends and solutions in the UAE.
Held in partnership with the Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, FBMA, and organised by INTERACT, the event’s theme and objective revolved around championing female talent and women-led businesses in the UAE and a plan to encourage young girls and women to be more active.
The Women Leaders in Sport and Health Forum was an exclusive closed-door event with 90 women from a range of related professional sectors in attendance, including young athletes from the UAE who provided their insights.
Featured speakers included Dr. Omniyat Al Hajeri, Director of The Public Health Division at the Department of Health and FBMA Board Member, who presented key research findings into motivations, family views and challenges in the UAE. Dr. Al Hajeri also provided data on UAE women’s engagement with sport and physical activity, as well as a summary of the government’s strategy.
During her presentation, Dr. Al Hajeri said: “We are witnessing a journey of transformation, where Emirati women are being empowered on all possible fronts, making sure that they are not just present on sports platforms, but that sports would transform their lifestyle.
“That is where the academy steps in, it is focussing on key pillars to achieve this target. We not only work on developing professional athletes and building their skills, but we also have various community-based programmes where we work with girls and train them at a young age, making sure we escort them through their journey to transform into the athletes they aspire to be, or simply into healthy productive individuals in our local community.”
“Nowadays, I see parents take their daughters to their sports training sessions, and to me, this is a huge breakthrough. Getting this level of support where the fathers and mothers are proud of being there to support their daughter’s sports acceleration, whether, in ice-skating, horse-jumping or whatever sport they choose, it is simply outstanding, and says a lot about the community we live in today.”
Alison Oliver, CEO of the UK’s Youth Sports Trust, delivered an international keynote speech, providing perspectives and insights from her independent charity devoted to improving lives through sport. Among the areas discussed by Oliver were the societal benefits brought about by closing the gaps in young women’s participation in sports.
Oliver addressed the strong impact of an active lifestyle on the development of physical health, having a positive mentality, building a constructive character, fostering employability skills as well as driving integration and cohesion with the surrounding community.
The audience also heard a panel debate between Dr. Al Hajeri and Oliver, in addition to Bayna Al Awani, Chief Innovation and Financial Officer at Daman – National Health Insurance Company and Tala Al Ramahi, Chief Strategy Officer at the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
The session kicked off with a conversation about their own career paths and lessons learnt in recognising talented youth in the UAE, before discussing ways to engage youth and encourage healthier, more active lifestyles.
In addition, attendees took part in an open group discussion, during which they identified the most important factors that affect the engagement of girls and young women with sports, as well as listing possible solutions.