Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC), a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, focused on the vital role women play in sustainable development and environmental management at a joint event with Qatar University (QU) at the Qatar National Convention Centre.
A number of industry-leading experts from QGBC and QU took part in the discussion, affirming women’s critical contributions to Qatar’s sustainable development, and proposing actions to strengthen their role by eliminating social and logistical obstacles to equal participation.
“Despite facing a number of hurdles, women are as capable as men in leading the construction industry in Qatar. They continue to be underrepresented in the mainstream media as well as in the scholarly written material,” said Eng. Rasha Al-Sulaiti, Vice Chair of QGBC who is also Project Management Director at Qatar Foundation’s Capital Projects and Facilities Management division – a department where the ratio of Qatari women versus men now stands at 52% to 48% respectively.
However, at the national level the picture is very different. According to Qatar Statistics Authority’s recent survey of the nearly half a million people working in the construction sector, only 2,800 are women, including just 143 Qataris.
“When you enter a construction company (in Qatar), you realise very quickly that all your colleagues are men and you hardly find a woman, except in administrative tasks,” said Sheikha Athba bint Thamer Al Thani, who, since joining QDVC in June 2010, has advanced to become Chief Support Services and Sustainable Development Manager.
“Before I joined QDVC, not one woman was present in the executive committee. I want to highlight why we experience this situation and how we can convince both men and women that females have a role to play in an industry representing billions of Qatari Riyals,” said Ms Al Thani, before drawing attention to cultural limitations, long working hours, and a variety of other restrictions hindering the potential of women in sustainable development.
Providing an alternative perspective on the issue, Dr Yasser Maghoub, an Associate Professor at Qatar University who spoke on design for recycling said, “I don’t think the problem is that they are women. The job market has its own demands, limitations and directions. The market needs fresh talent and fresh minds. The market is growing, especially with the projects for 2022. It doesn’t have time to train people, and so they bring professionals from outside (of Qatar). Our efforts are underway to train as quickly and professionally as possible to meet the demands of the current market.”
Dr Maghoub’s students were on hand with their peers from QU's Engineering Department to offer their own insight as young women studying the field. The students presented their projects on a range of topics in sustainable design and development, including wetland remediation and food production at Abu Nakhla, vertical farming at the Lusail Towers in West Bay, and community gardens and productive public spaces at The Pearl-Qatar, Qatar University and Al Zuhoor compound.
QU professors Dr Anna Grichting and Dr Hussam Salama facilitated discussions with the students on their projects, before a lively panel debate reviewed the day’s key theme and messages with an engaged audience.
QGBC is a non-profit, membership-driven organisation dedicated to advocating green building solutions, leading industry research, as well as promoting sustainable practice in the community. Through QGBC, Qatar has joined a network of 80 different countries that run active national green building councils under the umbrella of the World Green Building Council.