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Women’s Colleges to Address Global Challenges

  President Creighton and Behjat Al Yousuf
President Joanne V. Creighton (left) and Behjat Al Yousuf of Dubai Women's College in 2004.

President Joanne V. Creighton and Dean of Faculty Donal O’Shea will join presidents and academic deans of women’s colleges and universities worldwide in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, January 4–6 for the second Women’s Education Worldwide Conference, Women’s Dreams and Leadership. The purpose of the gathering, first held at Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges in 2004, is to pursue the recommendations of the first conference, to learn about women’s dreams in the global and technology era, and to discuss women leaders’ global opportunities and challenges. Dubai Women’s College, founded in 1989, will host the conference.

“I'm delighted that the Women's Education Worldwide project continues to gain momentum,” President Creighton said. “It is appropriate that Mount Holyoke, as the oldest continuing institution for higher education for women in the nation—and perhaps in the world—is a leader in this project. At our inaugural conference here at Mount Holyoke and at Smith, we laid out an ambitious agenda of working together to advance the education of women around the globe. At the Dubai conference, we will continue our conversations about the interrelated challenges that so many nations and cultures face in tapping what I think of as the world's greatest underutilized natural resource: women. We will also look for ways to reap more tangible benefits from our colleagueship with these diverse institutions.”

The keynote speaker on the first day of the conference will be Lubna Olayan, CEO of Olayan Financing Company in Saudi Arabia, who will speak about “women’s hopes and dreams.” Olayan was ranked the thirty-fifth most powerful woman in international business by Fortune Magazine in 2005 and was also named the ninety-seventh most powerful woman in the world.

Hafsa Al Ulama, undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy and Planning for Planning and Statistics Affairs, is the keynote speaker on day two of the conference. In her speech, Al Ulama, the first UAE female to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, will highlight how to encourage women to become entrepreneurs.

“Dubai Women's College is honored to host the second WEW conference,” said Howard Reed, director of the college. “After the first successful conference held jointly by Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges, the move to Dubai is of symbolic significance. The fact that all of our 2,300 students are UAE nationals highlights the point that educating young women is a global concern. Educational leaders from around the world will join us in discussing the diversity of aspirations of female students, as well as the challenges facing female graduates.”

Dubai Women’s College has asked each institution to submit three issues or challenges in advance, and these will in large part shape the discussions at the conference.

“Certainly we have much to learn from each other, and there are many opportunities for collaboration,” Creighton said. “Among the specific challenges we hope to discuss are how we can ensure both access and quality as an educational institution, how we can sustain an educational mission that runs counter to the dominant trends in the higher education marketplace, how we can promote a balanced approach to work and family in women's lives, and how we can advocate effectively for the unfinished agenda of women's education and advancement.”

A group of Mount Holyoke students will also be traveling to Dubai December 28–January 6 to run a leadership training workshop at the Dubai Women’s College, which received a grant from the U.S. State Department's Middle East Partnership Initiative to sponsor the event. The students, along with associate director of student programs Beth Gibney Boulden, will work with the DWC's student council for four days exploring opportunities for leadership within the school and offering a training program that they can adjust and replicate for their own students. The students will also present at the Women’s Education Worldwide conference. View the students profiles....

On the Web:

Dubai Diaries Blog - Track the MHC Delegation in Dubai

Women’s Education Worldwide

Dubai Women's College

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Copyright © 2006 Mount Holyoke College. This page created and maintained by Office of Communications. Last modified on June 13, 2006.