Let’s sit at the table for women’s empowerment
Evolvin’ Women, a social enterprise focused on providing free education, work experience, and networking opportunities to women from developing countries in the hospitality industry, hosted its third Round Table of the series ‘Empowering Women Through Education’, on 21st February 2018.
In partnership with The Retreat, Palm Dubai MGallery by Sofitel, the event got together a diverse group of personalities from the hospitality industry in Dubai to sit at the table and discuss the actions that need to be taken in the field, to empower women.
University lecturers at hospitality programs, chefs (both male and female), and students from the audience pursuing a career in the industry, discussed matters related to the education and empowerment of women within the hospitality field.
Assia Riccio, founder of Evolvin’ Women, when welcoming everyone to the event, shared how this Roundtable initiative started. “In August 2017, we launched our first project in Ghana and trained 13 girls. We were shocked that only one of them decided to apply for an internship in the kitchen. We came back to Dubai and we asked ourselves what we could’ve done differently or what we did wrong that only one girl went to the kitchen.”
This experience only reflects the reality of the industry, which is that most women don’t pursue a career as a chef. “We tend to associate women to cooking in their home, but professional, high-status cooking has remained the domain of men”, said Assia. For that reason, she mentioned how honoured she felt to have among the speakers three chef women that are breaking gender stereotypes in the region: celebrity Chef Dima Al Sharif; Sidiqa Sohail, owner of Sponthiphoria; and Chef Pach, from The Retreat Palm Dubai MGallery By Sofitel.
With that preamble in mind, the conversation revolved around three key questions:
- What are the educational practices in the region that encourage female students to enter non-traditional job fields such us culinary?
- What educational programmes and policies might encourage young women to enter non-traditional employment sectors, such as the culinary industry?
- What role could mentoring, role models and networking play in this?
Ideas were shared and initiatives were proposed by all panelist, who agreed that education is fundamental to encourage women to enter non traditional job field, a statement that is in line with principle 4 of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs).
Evolvin’ Women, as well as our more than thirty signatories in the region, recognize that educating women to pursue a career in their chosen field, will not only benefit their lives as individuals, but it will also help to build stronger economies and propel business to success.