Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani
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Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani (also Haifa Al Kaylani) (Arabic: هيفاء الفاهوم الكيلاني), is the Founder Chairman of the Arab International Women's Forum, a Fellow of the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative 2017, and a Commissioner on the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work. Her work is focused on international government and business circles as a high-impact change agent focusing on leadership in cultural and gender issues.
Al Kaylani has successfully led numerous initiatives and has been involved in a wide variety of charities, cultural institutions, NGO's and the private sector in the UK, the Arab world and internationally. She also commands wide international exposure in government and business circles, including high level contacts in the Middle East, Europe, India and North & South America. Al Kaylani serves as a Freeman and Liveryman of the City of London. She has also chaired and addressed major conferences on development, diversity, leadership and cross cultural dialogue.
In January 2017, Al Kaylani was invited to become a Fellow of the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University to join 45 global leaders selected for an intensive, multi-disciplinary program and year-long Fellowship to research and address significant social problems. As a Fellow of Harvard's Advanced Leadership Initiative, Al Kaylani stated that her aim would be to focus on economic development through the empowerment and advancement of Arab women and youth and by advocating job creation, entrepreneurship, education and economic empowerment, not only in the MENA region but internationally. In August 2017, she joined the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work and also served on The Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance.
Early life and languages
Al Kaylani was born in Palestine and raised in Lebanon. She is the eldest of 5 daughters and studied at English-speaking schools, learning five different languages fluently. Al Kaylani is a dual British and Lebanese citizen of Palestinian origin. She speaks English, Arabic, French, Spanish and Italian.
Al Kaylani attended the Sherborne School for Girls in Dorset and the British Lebanese School for Girls in Beirut. She achieved a BA in Economics at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 1966, later returning to AUB to earn a Masters in Economic Development in 1971 after preparing for a Diploma in the same subject at Oxford University in 1967. After completing her education, she went on to work as a junior economist for the United Nations for two years.
Al Kaylani married a Jordanian Ambassador, the late Wajih S. Al Kaylani, in 1970. For over forty years she assisted her husband in his diplomatic postings and official engagements including those as Jordanian Ambassador to India, Nepal, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Tunisia. They moved to the United Kingdom permanently in 1976 whilst maintaining close ties in Jordan and Lebanon. They have a son, Sirri Al Kaylani, a commercial lawyer.
Arab International Women's Forum
With the mission Building Bridges, Building Business, Al Kaylani founded the Arab International Women's Forum (AIWF) in London in February 2001. AIWF is a non-profit network that serves as a voice for Arab women; showcasing and developing their talent, ability and competence in business and public life to create a greater global awareness of the unprecedented impact they are making on economic, cultural and social development in the Arab world.
AIWF fosters co-operation among its members and between Arab, British and international communities. Through activities taking place in London, the Arab world, Europe and international business capitals, AIWF links Arab business and professional women in the 22 Arab countries with each other and with their counterparts in the international community. In addition to members from all the Arab countries, AIWF has also attracted members from more than a dozen countries in the UK, Europe, North and South America, Australia Africa and Asia. AIWF supports its members in meeting challenges and identifying opportunities for women created by globalisation, by leading with an agenda of capacity building and advocacy to create jobs and foster economic and social development. Through its annual events and initiatives, AIWF is proud to work across the board with governments, educators, NGOs and the private sector to advance gender equality and sustainable development in the Arab world, powering change, creating partnerships and promoting viable business alliances between women leaders in the 22 Arab countries and their counterparts in the international community.
The creation of a progressive business and social environment in the region where women-led SMEs can flourish has been a common keystone of AIWF's work. AIWF conferences, seminars, roundtable and networking events, held over the years in Paris, London, Brussels, Madrid, Cairo, Amman, Washington DC, Sharjah, Beirut, Damascus, Dubai and Berlin, connect high-level change agents in the region to emphasise the importance of partnership, capacity-building, mentorship and best practice exchange; identify economic challenges and cultural barriers to women's success; and ultimately produce concrete outcomes and recommendations based on findings of attending policy makers, academics and business leaders. AIWF reports in 2005 and 2007 on Women as Engines of Economic Growth in the Arab World set the benchmark for promoting policy recommendations and strategies for economic competitiveness, sustainable human development and the empowerment of Arab women and youth.
AIWF is distinguished by its many collaborations to advance legislative rights for Arab women with, among others, the League of Arab States, the European Commission and European Parliament, United Nations organisations and agencies, the World Bank, the OECD, women's business councils in the Arab States and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. AIWF places great strategic importance on the development of its global networks and the establishment of key alliances with multinational corporations across all sectors. AIWF's Global Corporate Benefactor Partner, PepsiCo, and its valued Global Partners are deeply engaged in the MENA region and uphold strong diversity policies that enhance the recruitment, training and development of women as key contributors to the Arab human capital pool.
AIWF is proud to have developed strong relationships with global media and a special partnership with the leading MENA communications company, Memac Ogilvy, and has assisted publications such as TIME, Forbes and the Financial Times with special reports to recognize the Arab world's emerging women business leaders. AIWF also supported the publication of Domains of Influence: Arab Women Business Leaders in a New Economy, the first book of its kind and a unique testament to the impact of Arab Women in today's global environment of entrepreneurship and economic empowerment.
As Chair of AIWF, Al Kaylani has consistently called for the region to fully utilise its most precious natural resource – its well-educated, tech-savvy, multi-lingual and increasingly interconnected pool of young Arab talent. In just over a decade, AIWF has become a powerful advocate for youth in the region, working closely within the corporate and academic spheres to enable young women leaders of the next generation to fully tap into their unexplored potential, to leverage technology and social media to network effectively, build the confidence to take greater leadership roles within their companies and communities, and to aspire to higher levels of responsibility in all areas of their lives.
The utmost priority for AIWF in 2017 and beyond is to promote empowerment for women and youth to act as future agents for lasting, sustainable development and prosperity in the Arab world. Therefore, AIWF has committed its resources to the Young Arab Women Leaders: The Voice of the Future initiative which it launched in 2012 and has thus far featured an outstanding series of conferences held in London, Amman, Beirut, Dubai, Palestine, Doha, Kuwait, and Morocco, bringing together speakers from government, business, NGOs and some of the region's most prominent women in business with young women who aspire to community, business and political leadership.
Fellowship of the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative
In January 2017, Al Kaylani was invited to become a Fellow of the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University to join 45 global leaders selected for an intensive, multi-disciplinary program and yearlong Fellowship to research and address significant social problems.
Harvard's Advanced Leadership Initiative is an exciting new ‘third stage’ in higher education designed to prepare experienced global leaders to take on new challenges in the social sector and carry the impact made in their careers forward towards even greater societal good. ALI Fellows participate in a rigorous core course, field experiences and intensive deep dives on social issues including health, environment, and education. The Fellowship culminates in a capstone event where ALI Fellows are invited to present their plan to make a lasting difference in the world. Following the programme year, fellows join the ALI Coalition, a group dedicated to making ongoing social progress and impact across a broad range of sectors and development spheres.
As a Fellow of Harvard's Advanced Leadership Initiative, Al Kaylani looks forward to carrying forward on a global level the mission to which she has devoted over three decades of her life – economic development through the empowerment and advancement of Arab women and youth and by advocating job creation, entrepreneurship, education and economic empowerment, not only in the MENA region but internationally.
ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work
In August 2017, Al Kaylani was invited to join the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work, as the only Commissioner from the Arab world to contribute to this timely and valuable Centenary Initiative under the joint chairmanship of Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Löfven, and the President of Mauritius, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim. The ILO launched the Global Commission on the Future of Work, a high-level international body to address the challenges of the rapidly transforming world of work, in Geneva on 22 August 2017 in the presence of the Commission Co-Chairs. The Commission will undertake an in-depth examination of the future of work that can provide the analytical basis for the delivery of social justice in the 21st century. The Commission will focus in particular on the relationship between work and society, the challenge of creating decent jobs for all, the organization of work and production, and the governance of work, towards the development of a Commission Report.
On her appointment as a Commissioner of the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work, Al Kaylani said: “It is a privilege to be invited to join the ILO Global Commission and to serve alongside such distinguished Commissioners from around the world. In my role as Founder Chairman of AIWF and as a development economist, the key issues of job creation and creating opportunities for women and youth in the MENA economy and internationally have been at the heart of my work and commitments for two decades. Realising the vision of a future working world that empowers young people to progress and prosper is, in my view, vital to global security, a mission that I am deeply committed to, and now, as a Commissioner on the Future of Work Centenary Initiative, a mission that I am very much looking forward to developing even further.”
Voluntary & Philanthropic Work
Al Kaylani was the President of the Federation of International Women's Associations in London (FIWAL), an organisation of 30 women's associations and clubs encompassing around 40,000 members, from 1997 – 2000, and a Board Member of FIWAL from 1990 – 2000. She was a Member of the Steering Committee of the Department of Trade and Industry UK, co-chairing two conferences in 1999 and 2000 to promote Arab-British business opportunities and women in business in the Arab world.
Al Kaylani was the Chair of Welcome Clubs International Middle East, a worldwide network of international women's organisations aimed at fostering friendship and understanding through education and training, in 2000 – 2003; the Chair of the UK Appeal of the Jordan Badia Research & Development Programme 1998 (Co-Patrons: Prince El Hassan, and the Duke of Kent), a joint initiative of the Royal Geographical Society and the Higher Council of Science & Technology in Jordan; Chair of the UK Appeal of the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development 1994, chaired by Princess Basma bint Talal, which helped to empower women in rural Jordan through small loans. A Co-Patron of the UK Appeal was the Duchess of Kent.
Al Kaylani was a Member of the Board of Medical Aid for Iraqi Children (1995 – 2005), a UK registered charity supplying medicines from the UK to children in Iraq (with UN Sanctions Committee approval); and a Member of the Board of the Fund for Refugees in Slovenia (1994–Present), a UK charity to assist Bosnian refugees set up in 1992 by Lady Nott with Baroness Margaret Thatcher as Patron.
Al Kaylani holds senior roles in several cultural, commercial and educational UK and international organisations. These include:
• Founder & Chairman, The Arab International Women's Forum
• Board Member, The Women's Leadership Board at Harvard Kennedy School
• Advisory Board Member, The London Middle East Institute, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
• Board Director, EastWest Institute in New York
• Board Member, The Arab British Chamber of Commerce, London
• Commissioner, Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance
• First Honorary Member, Euro Mediterranean Association for Cooperation and Development (2012)
• Freeman of the City of London.
Recognition, awards and fellowships
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Al Kaylani's work has been recognised by the international development community and she has received numerous high-level awards from organisations across the globe. In February 2018, Al Kaylani was included in the Muslim 100 Parliamentary Review and in March, she was honoured by the American University of Beirut and named amongst the leading women alumni recognised and featured in the book For All Conditions of Men: Stories of Women at AUB.
She was featured in Forbes Middle East's LeaderBoard: Standing Out list of High Achievers in July 2017, recognised for her leadership of AIWF and her commitment as Founder Chairman to encouraging cultural exchange and understanding between communities and promoting gender equality around the world. In May 2016, Al Kaylani received an award presented by the Jordanian Embassy in London on the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of the Independence of Jordan in recognition of her lifetime work and service to Jordan and the Arab World, and in October 2015, she was presented with The Honorary Global Exemplary Award for Leadership Development 2015 at the European Women Inventors & Innovators Network (EU-WIIN) International Conference & Awards Ceremony held at The British Library in London. This award was given in acknowledgment of her international achievements in promoting cultural and gender equality around the world and her extraordinary contribution to economic growth and to society.
In 2015, Kaylani, received The Pearl Initiative Recognition for a Career Focused on Arab Women in Leadership, presented by the Pearl Initiative Honorary Chairman HE Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Social Development in the United Arab Emirates on the occasion of The Pearl Initiative & United Nations Global Compact Forum held in Dubai. Al Kaylani was also included in the Power 100 List, compiled by Arabian Business Monitor and recognised on the Arabian Business Power 500 List published by Arabian Business Magazine and placed in the highest ever recording of 118 women in a list of Arab men and women leaders.
Al Kaylani received The Excellence in Life Award presented by The Global Thinkers Forum in Dubai December 2014, and she was inducted in 2013 by the Centre of Economic Leadership & Development into The Global Women Leaders Hall of Fame as a distinguished achiever and symbol of female achievement globally. She was presented with an Award for an Outstanding Contribution as a Women Leader of Palestinian Origin and was honoured by the Qatari Businesswomen Association and honoured for her contributions to the growth and development in the Arab region. She was the recipient of the Global Inspirational Leadership Award in 2013 and was honoured for individual achievements as a role model and having made contributions worthy of acknowledgement towards the role of women in Emerging Economies by the Georgia General Assembly.
She was a recipient of the International Alliance for Women 2008 World of Difference Lifetime Achievement Award, and was included in the Muslim Power 100 Leaders in the UK listing in 2007, receiving the Education Excellence Award; and has been honoured as one of the Women eNews 21 Leaders for the 21 Century in 2006.
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