Dubai: Young women aspiring to contribute to UAE society by making a change that can benefit the wider community gathered together in a three-day summit yesterday to listen to three inspirational Emirati women leading tremendous positions and projects in the UAE talk about their journey to success.

The 35 young women, who included Emiratis and expats from all seven emirates, are about to embark on a year-long programme launched for the first time in the Middle East by Promise of a Generation (POAG), a seven-year-old UAE-based community dialogue forum, with the support of Emirates NBD.

Working together as a team in what has been called the ’e7 Daughters of the Emirates’ initiative — named after the seven emirates from which they hail — the young women will have the opportunity to make their country better.

They will do this through discussion and design efforts inspired by POAG’s pillars of action; culture and heritage, education and career, enhancing opportunity for the less fortunate, the environment and health and family and women leadership.

Kara Schoeffling, partnership director at e7 Executive Board, said the programme brings women together for a year-long training and mentorship designed to inspire and help them execute their community projects.

“The three-day summit revolves around a design-thinking programme. It will train them, inspire them and give them all the tools needed to action community projects. They will have to select the projects they want to work on once the summit is over,” said Schoeffling.

She said after choosing the projects, each participant will be matched with a prominent female leader or mentor to develop their projects over the course of the next year.

“The winning idea will be given a grant in order to action those initiatives,” she said.

Co-founder of POAG and co-visionary of the e7, Adela Acevedo Sarna said the initiative was inspired by a similar initiative in Canada and has an objective of unlocking the team potential of girls and young women in the UAE.

At the vision session of the summit, prominent speakers including Aisha Abdullah Miran, Assistant Secretary General, The Executive Council, Government of Dubai; Najla Midfa, Founder of Khayrat and Lubna Qassim, Executive Vice President, Group General Counsel and Group Secretary at Emirates NBD, gave an inspirational talk about what women need to do to succeed.

They urged participants to think about how they can make a positive impact in their communities through social entrepreneurship and innovation, in line with the UAE’s long-term vision and strategic objectives, and also to be confident and to pursue what they’re mostly passionate about. “I come from a normal family and I was educated here, so I’m a product of a local system. This means that we have what it takes to be a successful woman without having to study abroad. Being in this programme means you have what it takes to do something. We want to develop this city and give it back like it has been giving us,” said Aisha.

Lubna, on the other hand, spoke about the skills women should develop in order to make a difference.

“You have to believe in what you do and you must practice how to be vocal and never shy,” she said.

Participants like Jawaher Jassem Al Baloushi, an Emirati who came from Ras Al Khaimah, said she already has a plan in her mind and believes e7 could be a great platform for her to achieve it.

“They are going to be giving us all the tools and training we need to serve our community. I’m excited to network with other ambitious girls and exchange thoughts on the project I’m thinking about pitching in, which will look at ways of inspiring other young women and guiding them how to contribute to society.”

She said the programme links creative people who are hesitant or unable to find a way to bring out their talents.

Another young Zayed University student representing Sharjah said she wanted to join because she wanted to give back to her community.

“I’m a young, ambitious Emirati woman who wants to be a pioneer and a leader in what I do. I want to give to my country as much as it has given me,” said Nada Ebrahim. “I have a couple of ideas and something that looks at involving Sharjah girls, so I hope my project gets chosen in order to make a difference,” said Nada.