We find out about the community group aiming to instil a message of empowerment in Abu Dhabi’s young females.
That’s not all: A study by the World Economic Forum in 2017 tells us we’re about 200 years away from closing the gender gap at all.
The truth is that whether your little girl wants to be a politician, astronaut or the next Beyoncé, it’s never too early to give them a fighting chance to realise that dream.
In Abu Dhabi, one of the women leading that charge for the women of tomorrow is Ola Abubaker Al Amoudi, founder of community group Abu Dhabi Pearls.
Created in 2016, the group works with young girls aged eight to 15 to empower them to take control of their future, with everything from classes in self-confidence to volunteering, social awareness and more. Needless to say, Ola knows she has a huge responsibility on her hands to build Abu Dhabi’s next female generation.
“We believe that leadership starts early and that you don’t need to go to college to develop those skills,” Ola explains. “We want to train girls to become confident young leaders that are aware of social causes, who get involved in the community and know how to give back.”
The idea for Abu Dhabi Pearls came to Ola after the Yemeni-American, while living in the US, discovered the power of being actively involved in her community. Inspired, Ola – raising two daughters herself – decided to help Abu Dhabi’s young females do the same.
“One of the main challenges for women that is unique to this region is that there’s a lack of motivation,” she says. “At this age, there are few girls that are reaching for really high goals – this is one of the things that motivated me to start Abu Dhabi Pearls.
“Obviously, the fabric of our community here is very different, but a teenage girl is the same everywhere,” she notes. “They face similar challenges in life, and they think similarly. Especially in the UAE, I felt that girls have a hidden power that they don’t realise.”
To channel that hidden power, Ola has a firm belief in honing the talents and skills of each individual who attends Abu Dhabi Pearls.
“We focus on doing workshops to enhance their confidence, find their talents, help them set goals and develop skills such as time management and decision-making,” she says.
“We also focus on tomorrow’s skills; we’re really trying to see what skills are needed for the different jobs, the different context. We want to make sure our girls learn human skills such as creativity, compassion and innovation – we want to instil in them that sense of volunteering.
“Women have a lot to offer once they have those key skills,” Ola muses. “Once they are confident, the contribution they can give to our society is invaluable. When we start this process from a young age, it sometimes fascinates us how smart and competent these children can be.”
Mothers of pearls
“I feel that there is a real lack of communication between parents and their children here,” Ola explains. “Especially between young girls and their mums, there is this communication gap where girls feel they are unheard. We also often lack the skills as parents to help them be confident, because we’re too protective or afraid.”
To combat this, Ola has set up a meet-up group for mums to help facilitate a two-way dialogue.
“It’s just as important for mums to hear each other and know they have things in common,” she argues. “At the same time, their girls open up to us. Both sides can’t hear one another, so we think we have a role to play to narrow that communication gap.
“Sometimes we, as parents, underestimate how much they know, aspire and understand,
and if they’re equipped now to be confident and make decisions, I think that’s very impactful.”
To find out more about Abu Dhabi Pearls, visit: bit.ly/2sc3yDR