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Expo 2020 Dubai’s Women’s Pavilion Amplifies Gender Equality To The World

The pavilion, in collaboration with Cartier, celebrates women driving change from every walk of life and aims to deliver real-life solutions to real-life challenges.

As well as being the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, Expo 2020 Dubai is the first one to have a stand-alone pavilion dedicated to women since the 1900s. The decision-makers at the event that is taking place from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022 have unveiled creative content and programming for a Women’s Pavilion as they join forces with Cartier. Celebrating women change-makers around the globe and reaffirming a commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment, the collaboration’s focus builds on the example of the UAE, recognising the important roles women play and the contributions made from all members of society.

Driven by the same conviction that the global Sustainable Development Goals and aspirations for a peaceful and prosperous world aren’t possible without gender equality and women’s empowerment, the exhibition, titled “New Perspectives” is all about reminding the world full and equal participation of women in all fields is important when it comes to creating a more equitable and just world. And the Women’s Pavilion will invite visitors to recognise the central role women, famous and unknown, have played throughout history, leading up to today.

Honouring noteworthy – and usually forgotten – contributions of women, the pavilion will validate the important principle that when women thrive, all of humanity does. Additionally, it will highlight important contributions women have made in advancing societies, as well as the hurdles women still face, especially as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic and works toward a more sustainable future.

Breaking stereotypes and analysing misconceptions on women’s roles, the pavilion will raise awareness by displaying female and male contributors to women’s empowerment and gender equality. Subsequently, visitors of all ages will be inspired to become change agents within their own communities and beyond.

 “The international community has made progress in gender equality and women’s empowerment, but much more needs to be done. By welcoming visitors from across the planet and from every walk of life, Expo 2020 Dubai is a unique, powerful platform that will drive the necessary attention to this issue,” Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General, Expo 2020 Dubai, said.

The minister also said gender equality and women’s empowerment have been an important issue since the UAE’s inception 50 years ago, as great female leaders like HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak and HH Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum have shown. “We in the UAE have practiced empowering women as integral to national development, and so it has proven in half a century of unprecedented growth. The pace of our development is only going to quicken with what we aim to achieve in the next 50 years. Unless we place gender equality and women's empowerment centre stage, we will not progress at the pace we need to,” Al Hashimy added.

Meanwhile, Cyrille Vigneron, President and CEO of Cartier International, talked about the French luxury maison’s involvement with the exhibition.

"At Cartier, we believe that empowering women has a multiplier effect: it helps drive economic growth and development, and benefits societies and humanity at large. As gender inequality persists and continues to impact women’s lives, it is ever more imperative to show unity and togetherness in promoting women empowerment,” she said. “We are honoured to take our long-standing support to women change-makers further by collaborating with Expo 2020 Dubai and present the Women’s Pavilion to a truly global audience. More than ever, we remain committed to sharing our vision of a future where all women are empowered to reach their full potential and of a more inclusive society for generations to come.”

The Women’s Pavilion, endorsed by the likes of Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, features five structures with different narratives. Located on the ground floor, these are:
Introduction – detailing the purpose of the pavilion

  • Achievements – highlighting women’s impact on the world
  • Challenges – looking at what is holding women back
  • Solutions – Underlining the initiatives enabling women to flourish so that humanity can
  • Engaging with visitors – encouraging visitors to back gender equality and women’s empowerment and take the journey forward. 

The Women Pavilion’s Highlights
A diverse community of creators and artists will be contributing to the design and curation of the Women’s Pavilion.

French architect Laura Gonzalez, inspired by references from Cartier’s creative heritage, is reimagining the upper part of the pavilion’s façade. She will be working with Dubai-born artist Kholoud Sharafi and French light designer Pauline David. Additionally, the unique artwork of international multi-disciplinary French-born Tunisian artist eL Seed will transform the lower part of the pavilion’s façade. He will be using Arabic calligraphy to spread messages of peace, unity and to underline the commonalities of human existence. Lebanese director and actress Nadine Labaki will be directing the Women’s Pavilion’s introduction movie, highlighting the brand’s manifesto “when women thrive, humanity thrives.” Labaki, who earned an Oscar nomination for her film “Capernaum,” is known for demonstrating everyday aspects of Lebanese life and covering issues such as war, poverty and feminism. Meanwhile, another woman in the film world, French actress, screenwriter and director Mélanie Laurent, is taking over the second floor of the pavilion to curate an immersive exhibition fostering dialogues across cultural, artistic and social fields in three sections. The first section highlights the universal link between women and their ecosystems through a sculpture and a series of exclusive photographs shot and selected by Laurent. The second one invites visitors to discover a virtual reality film, showcasing stories of women from all over the world, known and unknown, as they navigate through their experiences. And the third and final section brings an exclusive audio-visual art piece to life reflecting women’s voices across the globe.

In addition, the pavilion will feature a Majlis, a vibrant and inclusive space for everyone, including artists, scientists, thought leaders, politicians, entrepreneurs and business leaders. This is where visitors will be able to engage in constructive and solution-oriented conversations on women’s empowerment. And over the six months, the Women’s Pavilion will host an array of events, programming and meaningful dialogues that will not only enhance knowledge and understanding of gender equality and women’s empowerment, but also urge tangible, collaborative action that can be shared with the world. These include a Women’s World Majlis to address the role of women in creating a cleaner, safer, healthier world, and the “Women in Arabia and Islam” series, highlighting real-life stories of women who have led the way throughout history, inspiring other women from across the world to reach new heights. Expo 2020 and Cartier will also celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March 2022 by hosting a global forum under the theme of “Creating New Perspectives.” 

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