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For more on the 2020 edition of SAMEAWS, click here


The Madinat Jumeirah Resort, Dubai was agog with various inspiring activities focused on developing female leadership, as women leaders, policymakers, think-tanks and other stakeholders from across the developing regions gathered together on the 11th of December, 2019 for the 7th edition of the South America- Africa -Middle East- Asia Women Summit (SAMEAWS), a flagship event of the Centre for Economic and Leadership Development (CELD).

The 2019 summit tagged; “Developing Female Transformational Leaders: A New Paradigm for Growing Emerging Economies”, was declared open by Dr. Ken Giami, President, CELD Board of Trustees.

In his welcome address, Dr. Giami highlighted some of the accomplishments of the summit, which has become a gathering of the most influential and prominent women from emerging economies to discuss the need to recognize and harness the untapped and profitable opportunities that women economic and political engagements presents.

“Since its maiden edition, SAMEAWS has hosted over 3000 delegates from over 42 countries drawn from across Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East. Over 18 sitting First Ladies and female Heads of Government, and 250 CEOs of major businesses have attended SAMEAWS as it has been consistent in attracting High-Level delegations of Female US lawmakers to the city of Dubai, for greater connections and collaborations with their counterparts and other female leaders.” Dr Giami said.


Dr. Giami also welcomed all guests and participants and shared the objectives of the summit, which was to exchange experiences and lessons-learnt from successful female leaders to inspire other women, as well as celebrate some of the influential leaders and organizations across emerging economies. Dr. Giami then enjoined all participants to take advantage of the unrivalled networking opportunity the summit offers.  

This was followed by a session opening remarks by the newly appointed Chairperson, CELD Global Advisory Board, Dr. Hannatu Adamu Fika.  Dr. Fika, an accomplished public servant, who retired from the Nigerian public service as Chief Executive of the Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board, shared some of thought on women leadership in the public service. 

She said “I have also experienced from my years of public service in my home country, Nigeria, when women participate as part of the workforce and compete on an even platform with men, there is a greater potential to see creativity, innovation and transparency in the state of affairs. This phenomena is expected to translate into greater gender diversity in workplace in addition to increase in organizational effectiveness.”

“Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, to move to the next level in the empowerment and improvement in the roles of women and girls in the sustainable development of our various countries,  it is important for us to take this summit and indeed this gathering as an opportunity to utilize innovative ways of moving beyond the need to engage female leaders to developing female leaders that can competently combine their efforts and talents with that of their male counterparts to drive the required sustainable growth in our respective countries and communities”, she admonished. 

CELD Board members – Ms. Nona Chili, CEO of Makwande Energy, and Dr. Elizabeth Lungu – Nkumbula, an accomplished Zambian public servant, who retired as CEO of the Zambian Workers Compensation Fund Control Board- also shared their experiences in the private and public sectors as well as their many efforts towards women empowerment. They enjoined the participants, especially the women leaders, to use the various positions they have to develop female leadership.

The keynote address of the summit was delivered by Sheikha Dr. Hind Abdul Aziz Bin Hameed Al Qassimi, Chairwoman, Arab Centre for Educational Investments. She advised emerging economies to embrace transformational leadership that is both inclusive and people-oriented to achieve sustainable national growth, citing the United Arab Emirates as a model of a rapid and sustainable growth story in the Middle East, in terms of infrastructure development and economic growth of the country and also the progress of its people – especially women. 

‘The success of the UAE in developing its women is an example of what is possible.’ The keynote speaker said.

“I urge stakeholders at the public and private sector level to be unbiased against women and create equal opportunities for both women and men, as our future depends on our cooperation today. And as women who have achieved success in different walks of life, we have to make ourselves available as mentors and role models to the young people.” The Sheikha added.

This was followed by three fascinating and educative panel discussions with seasoned women leaders, including a round table session on- Democracy and Gender Equality. The speakers included Hon. Freda Prempeh, Member of Parliament of the Republic of Ghana, Ms. Naushina Aboo, Indian, and founder NM Aboo Attorneys, and Ms Aayda Al Shehhi, FANR Director of Radiation Safety Department, United Arab Emirates. These speakers identified reforms that would strengthen women’s participation in politics, explored harmful gender norms and change strategies to promote more equitable political systems and women’s engagement in politics – as voters, representatives, fundraisers and community mobilisers.

It was also inspiring as Ms. Christine Kampinga, Founder, Quantum investment, Dubai·   Dr. Upasana Gala, Founder and CEO of Evolve Brain Training, UAE and Ms. Aldea Georgina Christiana, UAE, came on a Panel Session on – Social Impact Investment: Realizing Opportunities for Impact and Sustainability- and shared best practices in delivering investments in SDGs. The session was moderated by H. E H.E Laila Rahhal, President of United Youth Circuit & Vice President of Voice Magazine and Founder & President of Business Gates.

The final panel session was tagged: “He for She” with focus on- “The Business Case for Gender Lens Investing: a presentation of real-life case studies from Global Business Leaders. The session was moderated by Dr. Ken Giami – President CELD Trustees. The speakers were, Ms.  Reinette van der Merwe, Managing Executive, Relationship Banking Products, ABSA Group, South Africa; Dr Belisa Marochi, Head of the Institute of Sustainable Development at Middlesex University Dubai; Mr. William Stenhouse, Vice President, Agility Africa; and Ms. Rooksana Modan, CEO of Apex Development Limited South Africa. The panel session achieved its aim as panel members explored the opportunities and challenges in catalyzing and scaling gender lens investing in developing economies.

SAMEAWS 2019 climaxed into the presentation of awards to deserving women leaders, renowned global female CEOs, and entrepreneurs in recognition of their various works in fostering and enabling female transformational leadership in their communities, and making inroad for other women in the society. 

Some of the people who received these honors included, Mrs. Nana Ama Poku, Deputy CEO of the Exim Bank Ghana; Ms. Reinette Van Der Merwe, Managing Executive, Relationship Banking , ABSA, South Africa; H. E. Layla Rahhal, President of United Youth Circuit; Ms. Nooshina M. Aboo, founder, NM Aboo Attorneys; Ms. Rooksana Modan, CEO of Apex Development South Africa, amongst others.