The Qatar Leadership Conference 2019 at QF has brought together 900 globally-focused students from 16 countries
Hundreds of young leaders from schools in 16 countries have converged on Qatar Foundation for the region’s largest student-driven leadership summit – where they have heard the haunting but inspiring story of an acid attack victim who has made it her mission to be a force for change and equality.
The Qatar Leadership Conference 2019, which began today, is organized by THIMUN Qatar – a joint project between Qatar Academy, one of the schools under Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Pre-University Education umbrella, and the THIMUN Foundation – and has brought together around 900 high school students to build and develop their skills and networks.
The three-day gathering, designed to enhance the region’s leadership capacity and amplify the role of youth in steering the future, includes over 130 workshops and 150 speakers from the humanitarian and education fields. Among them is Hanifa Nakiryowa, who, in 2011, had acid thrown in her face by a man dressed as a security guard in her home country of Uganda as she waited to pick up her two daughters from her ex-husband’s home.
What makes a leader is to be uncomfortable all the time, until you begin to relax in your discomfort.
She underwent more than a dozen operations and was left disfigured, but the experience only galvanized her to help others. In 2012, she formed the non-governmental organization CERESAV, which provides medical and emotional support to survivors of acid attacks, raises awareness, and works to prevent such violent crimes through driving changes in laws. Nakiryowa also promotes maternal and child health, women’s and children’s rights, and education for girls in her Ugandan homeland, focusing on addressing gender-related challenges facing women in children in oppressive societies.
I had to think outside the box to create an impact. I learned that I needed to show my face and tell people what happened to me.”
Giving the opening plenary address at Qatar Leadership Conference (QLC) 2019, she told the audience that, after the attack, she found herself being “comfortable with people who looked like me”, but said: “I eventually felt this was not addressing the problem – what makes a leader is to be uncomfortable all the time, until you begin to relax in your discomfort.
“I had to think outside the box to create an impact. I learned that I needed to show my face and tell people what happened to me. You have to think of the legacy you are creating once you step out of your comfort zone.
“And, in creating that legacy, you are not focusing on yourself as a leader – you are focusing on the people that you mentor, those behind you and beside you.”
QLC 2019 – the eighth edition of the conference – is taking place over three days at Qatar National Convention Centre, with Friday’s keynote speaker being social entrepreneur Jamala Osman, a TEDx Speaker and winner of the Great Britain and Ireland Young Citizen Award 2018. Speakers also include Mubarrat Wassey, coach of Qatar’s National Debate Team, who also works for QF member QatarDebate.
Conference workshops and sessions focus on six key areas: skills building, professional learning, organization, teaching, community service, and media and journalism, with the 2019 edition including Networking Circles that act as a channel for exchanging knowledge and ideas. It concludes on Saturday and more information is available at www.qatar.thimun.org/qlc