Women Business Leaders Summit - Jordan
In February 2007, 50 women business executives from Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, and Syria were joined in Amman, Jordan by 50 women business leaders from the United States to exchange best business practices and share personal experiences at the Women Business Leaders Summit.
Each Middle Eastern participant was matched with an American partner in a similar business field, and as part of this two-way exchange, the Arab businesswomen then traveled to the United States in May to visit their American partner's companies and hometowns, and attend a closing program in Washington, DC.
The Under Secretariat for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs joined with Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, Chairman of the American Red Cross, President & CEO of Pace Communications and former U.S. Ambassador to Finland, and Luma Kawar, founder of the International Women's Forum chapter in Jordan, to sponsor the Summit, designed to establish personal connections and facilitate links between American and Middle Eastern business communities.
The Summit – whose participants and the companies they own or represent had $600 billion in annual revenue and 2 million employees in 2006 – brought together a high-level group of women to create an extended business network, and lay the foundation for business expansion and partnerships. One participant is working with U.S. partners in the spa and hospitality industry to market her beauty products more widely. Another participant in the public relations field has actually signed a cooperative agreement with her U.S. partner to be the firm’s Middle East operating agency – and that is just the beginning.
In addition to a variety of high-level speakers and panel discussions, the Jordan program included a reception at the home of U.S. Ambassador David Hale; a dinner at the home of Luma and Karim Kawar, the former Jordanian Ambassador to the U.S., and a lunch with Her Majesty, Queen Rania Al-Abdullah.
Washington, DC Program
In Washington, the group met with distinguished Congresswomen on Capitol Hill, and attended program sessions at Georgetown University, a dinner at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and an afternoon tea and reception graciously hosted by First Lady Laura Bush at the White House.
“Women today have more power than ever before to change the world – and if we work together we can leverage that power even more. One woman standing up for her rights is a powerful example. Two women are a team. Five are a committee for change. And 30 women will be a ballroom of a thousand before you know it. Women are good at networking for the good of their community and the world community.”
This Summit, which builds on the previous success of regional summits hosted by Ms. McElveen-Hunter in Finland and Latvia, represents the best kind of public diplomacy, utilizing some of our greatest resources – the American people – to address the challenges faced by all women in business. The level of interaction allowed participants to learn first-hand about the social, political and economic realities of women in other countries, and fostered not only business partnerships, but lasting friendships as well.