Sunday 19 October 2008 (20 Shawwal 1429)
Businesswomen pull out of MCCI board elections
Badea Abu Al-Naja | Arab News
MAKKAH: Three businesswomen contesting elections to the board of
directors of Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) have withdrawn
their candidacies accusing chamber officials of not cooperating with them.
Areej Justaniyah, one of the four businesswomen who had submitted
nominations, told Arab News that the chamber did not provide an appropriate
atmosphere for women's participation in the elections.
"This was my first experience in the elections, but I didn't find the
necessary ambience and that is why I am withdrawing," Justaniyah said. "When
all doors are closed in your face you have no option but to withdraw."
Amina Zawawi and Sameerah are the other two businesswomen who withdrew
Justaniyah claimed that chamber officials were hesitant to provide the
women candidates with the election plan. "Is this acceptable when there is only
one day left for the elections?" the businesswoman asked.
More than 5,000 registered members of the chamber, including about 800
businesswomen, will elect 10 members to the MCCI board of directors tomorrow
out of 29 candidates, including one woman.
Justaniyah criticized the chamber officials for not making sufficient
preparations for the election of women and said that they were not willing to
welcome businesswomen to the chamber's board of directors.
"Even in other matters, businesswomen are being marginalized. The chamber
is not informing us about lectures and seminars it organizes which may help
improve our performance," she said.
Justaniyah had lamented the inability of Fatimah Center, the women's
section of MCCI, to provide necessary services to businesswomen.
"The center makes empty promises. It claims it is launching new schemes
and initiatives for women. But they are never translated into reality,"
Justaniyah, a distributor of imported lingerie with a shop in Makkah, told Arab
News in an interview a couple of months ago.
Justaniyah did not cite any reason for the hostile attitude of the
chamber officials. She, however, expressed her hope that the media would
encourage businesswomen by highlighting their grievances. She also hopes that
Commerce Minister Abdullah Zainal would consider her name when he selects
appointed members to the board.
Zahra Qadah, the only remaining woman candidate, expressed happiness over
her candidacy. "I am happy to compete regardless of the outcome; it doesn't
matter whether I win or not," she said, adding that she will run again next
year if she did not make it this time.
Qadah said the chamber provided the women candidates with a CD-Rom
containing the names, addresses and telephone numbers of 800 women voters but
they were not able to contact them because much of the data was not updated.
"It is obvious that the chamber does not want any woman element in its
board of directors," she said, implying that the male lobby was dominating the