28 April 2010

Nigeria: IDB Meeting in Jeddah - Rewarding Excellence (i)

A meeting of the Selection Committee of the Women's Advisory Panel of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia from April 17 to 18, 2011. The Committee was charged with the responsibility of selecting individual women and organisations who are achievers in development for an annual award - the "IDB Annual Prize for Women's Contribution to Development".

The Women's Advisory Panel WAP which has 12 members from various countries was established to advise the IDB on mainstreaming women into development. My humble self is privileged to be a member of the Panel which has distinguished women from all walks of life as members. Among them are Dr Saleha Abedin from Pakistan of the Dar Hikma College Jeddah, Mrs. Arwa Yahya Al Deram a development worker from Yemen, Mrs.Sharifa Aminah Al Khared from Malaysia, an accomplished business woman, Dr Raeda Qutob a medical doctor from Jordan, Dr Mudi Bint Mansour Al Saud a university lecturer and member of the royal family from Saudi Arabia. Others are Honourable Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in Uganda, Mrs. Syda Bhumba, Mrs. Aicha Bah Diallo, a UNESCO Adviser from Guinea Conakry, Mrs. Abda Yahia El Mahdi from Sudan, the Managing Director of a consultancy firm, Dr Suhaima Hoosen, a development worker from South Africa, Dr Ingrid Mattson from the United States who is a lecturer of Islamic Studies and the President of the Islamic Society of North America and Dr. Sema Ramzanoglu an Adviser to the President of Turkey.

When the WAP held its last meeting in Jordan last year, it discussed the need to focus on youth development and to empower young women who are the future leaders of their families and communities. Members explored various topics and finally settled for Female Youth Development as the topic for the 5th Annual IDB Prize for year 1430-1431 corresponding to 2009-2011. The topic also falls within the ambit of the Bank. The IDB is an institution that fosters the economic development and social progress of member countries and Muslim communities in non-member countries individually as well as jointly in accordance with the principles of Shari'ah (Islamic Law). Its main function is to provide various forms of development assistance for poverty alleviation through human development. The Annual IDB Prize for Women's Contribution to Development, is therefore one of the many forms through which IDB helps in fostering the socio-economic development of women to help them become the future leaders of development in their own communities. It also stems from the essential belief that recognizing and celebrating the successes of exemplary individual women and organizations that are contributing to development will encourage them in turn promote the socio-economic development of their communities.

The award is very competitive and the selection process which is rigorous and meticulously done is always given to independent consultants who develop the selection criteria and shortlist candidates for the Selection Committee's consideration. For the 5th Annual IDB Prize for Women's Contribution to Development, the IDB commissioned Jeddah based Effat University (EU) as its consultant to undertake the screening and short listing processes. EU which was established by late Queen Effat, the wife of the late Saudi monarch King Faisal, shares IDB's vision. It is the first women's private non-profit university and it also maintains a strict adherence to the education and development of women in keeping with Islamic law and ethics in all its endeavours.

Both institutions thus believe that the Annual IDB Prize for Women's Contribution to Development is one of the best methods of educating women, organizations and communities to appreciate the value of women's contributions to the socio-economic development of their societies. The Prize is in two categories, for organisations and also for individuals. After developing the criteria it was widely advised in various countries. For the organizational prize the IDB stated as follows: 'Recognizing organizations and individuals that have encouraged and supported the development of female youth to make a positive change in their lives and communities. The 5th edition of the IDB Prize for Women's Contribution to Development aims to honour an organization or an individual that act as a model for other institutions in supporting the development of female youth to become leaders, decision makers, policy makers, researchers, employers, and activists through innovative, sustainable outreach projects and activities. To ensure that it remained youth focused priority was given to nominees between the ages of 15 to 30 years.

Two hundred and fifty applications received were in three languages (Arabic, English and French). The Effat consultants established three sub committees to process the applications in each language. It was also decided that, during the screening and short listing processes, a bonus would be given to young women serving young women as the former would be considered the role-models for women's contribution to development Since the applications received were in three languages (Arabic, English and French), three subcommittees were formed to handle the applications in each language. All the Sub-Committees met and shortlisted five organizations and five individuals.

The outcome of this rigorous screening assignment was presented to the five members of the Selection Committee of WAP. They were joined by a staff of an IDB affiliate organisation responsible for Commerce and Industry and the officer in charge of the Prize at IDB headquarters Dr Riad Ragueb. For accountability and transparency the names of the consultants and the members of the Selection Committee will not be disclosed. The applications shortlisted were so good and motivating that the Selection Committee members had a difficult time deciding on the winners. They deliberated for two days and finally came up with the following result.

For the organisational prize, the Committee selected three. One of them is a non governmental organisation NGO from one of the Gulf States. It is a youth focused educational club that aims to produce a generation of young women (15-26 years) that are confident, responsible, ambitious and ready to lead. The workshops and courses the NGO provides emphasise the importance of being armed with the necessary tools and skills, not only to be a successful leader, but also to be able to compete in the professional market and to be able to lead a financially stable life, thus focus on attaining leadership. It has between 60 and 100 participants.

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