Complex Made Simple

Global WIL Economic Forum returns to Dubai

  • The forum this year runs under the theme of “The Future of Everything”
  • The forum started as women’s gatherings, but has taken a global shape and form today
  • Women in leadership face common challenges around the globe

The 18th edition of the Global Women in Leadership (WIL) Economic Forum, an annual platform aimed at promoting female leadership worldwide, made a comeback to Dubai this week.

This year, the forum runs under the ambitious theme of “The Future of Everything.”

“It is an ambitious theme, but it is something I truly believe in and all the participants of the event do believe it. That’s why we articulated it around that theme,” Sophie Le Ray, founder and spokesperson of the forum, told AMEinfo.

She added that the theme “comes from a deeply rooted belief in the team and community that was built around WIL; if you truly commit to developing a knowledge-based economy, like the UAE does, you have to lay the foundation of it by educating and developing a truly diverse society.”

It’s about the future

“It is a global conference,” she continued. “We invite speakers and delegates from all over the world and the forum is part of a series of events that we have hosted in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, China and India.”

Just like the community it has evolved in, the WIL Forum has evolved in shape and format as well.

“I remember when we started hosting , it was more like a networking platform for women, but it slowly changed, because Dubai itself was changing so fast and was embarking on that route of developing into a truly special environment and a knowledge-based economy. One of those foundations was gender diversity, so it kind of fits together. Today, it is not a women’s event, it is about the future,” Le Ray said.

Global differences, global commonalities

Given the sheer number and variety of problems people around the world face – not to mention the various cultural differences, wouldn’t it seem ineffective to dedicate a single platform to sum up all of the problems and experiences from women around the world?

Le Ray goes on to explain that, while people might seem very different from each other, she believes the reality is that they are not so far apart after all.

“When it comes to women in leadership, most of the challenges are global,” she asserted. “There is little difference between an American woman and an Emirati woman. Yes, there is a cultural aspect to it, but most of the challenges we face in the workplace are very similar.”

She added: “It is quite interesting to see that, although we all have very strong, different backgrounds, we face exactly the same challenges – yet, we have different responses to them, so sharing is interesting here as well.”