As part of the World Government Summit 2023, the Gender Balance Forum, held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council and wife of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Court, featured a session titled “A Conversation on Balancing Career, Life, and Ambition" featuring Margery Kraus, Founder & Executive Chairman, APCO Worldwide, and Hala Badri, Director General of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture).
Exploring the topic of work-life balance, the session highlighted the inspiring experience of Margery Kraus. Her success story reflects the UAE Gender Balance Council’s objectives to support women’s development and capabilities through various initiatives and projects, in line with the vision of the UAE’s leadership to empower women in all aspects of life.
The session delved into the inspiring experiences of two successful women, Margery Kraus and Hala Badri, who have both achieved a balance between their professional and personal lives.
Margery Kraus, the founder of one of the world’s largest PR firms, shared the lessons she learnt throughout her career and her unwavering commitment to building a thriving business while maintaining a fulfilling family life.
Hala Badri shared her inspiring journey of climbing the professional ladder and becoming the head of Dubai Culture, all while balancing the demands of family life. Her belief that work and family can coexist without hindering each other offers a valuable lesson for women seeking success in their careers.
Kraus shared that her journey of 40 years is similar to that of many women who started from scratch. Growing up in an immigrant family that had settled in the US after leaving South America, she began her career working in a small shop. After graduation, she established her own business, which has now grown into a major company that operates in 35 countries and employs over 1,000 people.
The Founder and Executive Chairman of APCO Worldwide shared key criteria that have contributed to her success, including being truthful and honest with oneself, engaging in deep thinking before making decisions, having determination, and being willing to take risks. Kraus also noted that having a supportive network of family and friends, as well as loyal and dedicated colleagues at her company, has played a crucial role in her personal and professional growth.
Hala Badri, meanwhile, expressed gratitude for being raised in a family that values women’s right to work, and for living in a country that empowers women through supportive legislation and initiatives. Badri began her career as a part-time event coordinator while still in university. After graduation, she worked for an oil company before taking a year off after marriage and the birth of her first two children. She later re-joined the workforce at Du, where she remained for 11 years, and now has four children.
Badri noted that companies that offer workplace-sponsored nurseries help women achieve work-life balance, which has been crucial to her success. Kraus emphasised that the shortage of childcare options is one of the biggest challenges faced by working mothers, with more than three million women leaving the job market worldwide since the outbreak of COVID-19.
She said that her company has a dedicated program for female employees called “Ancor”, which offers the option for retired female workers to continue working either part-time or remotely.
Kraus, a 76-year-old mother of three and grandmother of nine, credited her success to the support of her family. She advised mothers to take care of their children and ensure that they learn new skills. Badri emphasised the importance of allocating enough time for family and spending time with children to talk and share knowledge to build a strong family.
The discussions also covered the topic of women in leadership positions. Badri highlighted the role of the UAE Securities and Commodities Authority in enforcing listed companies to have a quota for women on their boards of directors. This decision was praised by Kraus as a commitment by the UAE government to promote women in leadership positions. She also praised the role of men in supporting working women and their belief in gender balance, which is not common in other parts of the world. Kraus advised women seeking leadership positions to work hard, be patient, and plan ahead to achieve their ambition.
The UAE Gender Balance Council is committed to strengthening its global partnerships as a critical aspect of its strategy. It aims to establish the UAE’s leadership and influence in the realm of gender balance and to increase the representation of women in leadership and the economy.
Under the guidance of its wise leadership, the UAE places great importance on gender balance and women’s empowerment and is eager to share its inspiring achievements with the global community. The country’s commitment to supporting international efforts to achieve gender balance is a testament to its sustainable approach.
At the World Government Summit 2023, leaders and officials from the government and private sectors, as well as representatives of international organisations with expertise in gender policies, are participating in discussions about the current status and opportunities for progress in gender balance and women’s participation in government, both locally and globally.
The Gender Balance Forum and the Women in Government Forum, also held under the patronage of Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed, provide a platform for dialogue and collaboration to accelerate progress towards SDG 5.
News Source: Emirates News Agency