The general director of Halal Institute, Ms. Isabel Romero, participated today in the Business Women Forum in Korea, organized by World Islamic Economic Foundation (WIEF). Ms. Romero was invited to deliver a speech in the Forum, attended by the most influential women in the Islamic world.
The director delivered a speech on the presence of women among the staff of international halal certification bodies, explaining that the numbers “have been increasing in the most important certification bodies in the world, including JAKIM (Malaysia), MUIS (Singapore), Gulf Accreditation Centre (Saudi Arabia) or MUI (Indonesia)”.
However, these numbers are “more related to scientific and technical aspects, and that there is a crystal ceiling to access executive positions” in these organizations.
In her opinion, “there is still a lot of work to do so that women can reach higher executive positions”. We have to consider that “these certification bodies have a strong influence on the food consumption pattern of millions of Muslims in the world”. The absence of women in these paradigms generates a gap, because “the role of women in the consumption of Muslim families is a key one”.
Another important limitation is the absence of feminine consumption and opinion leaders with an influence on the development of a halal standard”. Therefore, “there is an important group of women who are not participating in the debates about the categories of products to be classified as halal (permitted) or haram (forbidden), considering the “great diversity of raw materials, processing techniques, cooking techniques, weather areas, economic models and specific local circumstances. These are not being taken into account by international certification bodies”.
There are relevant opportunities for entrepreneur women in the halal business. For example, promoting consumer’s cooperatives, to build commercial bridges and favour the access to halal products at a reasonable price, or in the creation of international networks of producers, to ensure healthy and eco-friendly food.
Also, women can promote intermediary platforms for more competitive, high quality products. Another opportunity for the development of women entrepreneurship is the creation of halal catering schools, for professional chefs and cooks, so they can compete in equal conditions with their male colleagues.
“Fast food” franchises can also be created, a field where big companies are already working. Also, women can also work to develop more awareness of the benefits of gender equality in the structures of all kinds of organizations promoting the halal concept. This is something all the organizations in the halal field should be doing.
The Islamic Board of Spain, located in Cordoba, created in 1996 the Halal Institute, which developed its own halal quality brand. In these 20 years, the Halal Institute has established cooperation relations worldwide. It currently certifies more than 300 companies, which sell their halal products in more than 80 countries in the world.