Queen Rania Participates in a Panel Discussion Organized by the Women's Leadership Initiative in New York

February 03, 2002

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - New York) Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah highlighted the importance of role models for Arab women, and also reaffirmed the significance of education in dispelling misconceptions about women's rights in Islam.

As part of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in New York, Queen Rania participated in a panel discussion organized by the Women's Leadership Initiative.

She also attended the launch of the NetAid World Schoolhouse program, which aims to bring quality education to the world's poorest children.

Speaking informally at the Women's Leadership Initiative function, the Queen joined a discussion moderated by Barbara Walters of ABC News, highlighting the importance of role models for Arab women.

"We need examples in our part of the world, we need women who have succeeded, because when we have role models then I think that can help women move forward in our part of the world," she told women leaders from different sectors, including government, the private sector, and civil society.

The Queen also said that as a result of recent events, there has been an increased focus on women in Islam and the "harsh" conditions that women face in some Muslim countries.

This has led to numerous misconceptions about women's rights in Islam, the Queen said, adding that education can help dispel inaccuracies about the Islamic faith and also raise awareness on women's rights in Islam among Muslim women themselves.

"I think there were some misconceptions tying the conditions of Muslim women with Islam itself, an understanding that maybe Islam denies women of their rights. However, I want to point out that a lot of the challenges that these women face are shared by other developing countries that may not even be Muslim. The point is that women in the developing world all share similar challenges, and it's very important for them to be educated on their own rights. Only then can they really strive to be pro-active in making sure that those rights are met," the Queen said.

Sunday's function brought together 150 women including former US Secretary of State Madelaine Albright, Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn, as well as several women from the Arab World.

The Women's Leadership Initiative is a new initiative, which aims to increase the participation of women at the World Economic Forum and to encourage them to engage in global issues of importance.

Also Sunday, the Queen attended the official launch of the NetAid World Schoolhouse program, an initiative designed to provide the world's poorest children with access to education.

The Queen extended support to the program, along with world leaders, top executives, and other education advocates, including CEO of Cisco Systems John Chambers, Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Sony Music Entertainment Isisara Bey, President of Peru Alejandro Toledo, United Nations Development Program Administrator Mark Malloch Brown, and world-renowned musician Quincy Jones.

Speaking at the event, the CEO of Cisco Systems, John Chambers, applauded the efforts of Their Majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania to ensure a quality education to all Jordanian citizens, and to equip them with the right tools to be active contributors to the global economy. "This is the dream of the King and Queen of Jordan. They clearly understand this.

They understand that while their country might be limited in natural resources, they have a young, a very vibrant population that they are educating better than their counterparts are.

And instead of once they get their education leaving the country then having a trickling back effect, staying in the country, forming businesses, and also doing the work over the Internet offers an opportunity that would have not existed before," he said.

The President of NetAid, David Morrison, also paid tribute to Queen Rania for her efforts on behalf of causes ensuring the well-being of individuals, both in Jordan and around the world.

"I'd like to begin by acknowledging one individual who has done so much for her own country and the world, and she's with us this morning. She's many things to many people around the world--she's a role model, an advocate, and a voice for many people around the world who are struggling to be heard. She brings her own unique grace and passion for children to the gathering this morning, and we're very pleased to have her with us. Please join me in welcoming Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan," he said.

The Director of the Brookings Forum on Universal Education, Gene Sperling, also highlighted the Kingdom's efforts to computerize education when he said that "Jordan has…been a leader in giving all children a digital, as well as the basic, education."

Sperling previously served as National Economic Adviser to President Clinton. The NetAid World Schoolhouse program is the newest initiative of NetAid, a non-profit organization headquartered in New York, which channels support to local development projects fighting extreme poverty.

The organization, which was formed through a collaboration between the United Nations Development Program and Cisco Systems, primarily carries out its work over the Internet, whereby individuals can make direct donations to poverty-fighting organizations around the world.

The NetAid World Schoolhouse aims to put 50,000 children from poor countries into school over the next two years.