RIYADH: According to Mohammad al-Ateeq, Chargé d’Affaires of the Kingdom’s Permanent Delegation to the UN, it is with “determination and firmness” that Saudi Arabia aims to ensure “the effective and genuine empowerment of women so that they can live without discrimination.
At the annual board meeting of the UN Commission on Women and Gender Equality, Al-Ateeq highlighted Saudi Arabia’s interest in the gender equality strategy and the empowerment of women (2018 to 2021).
Al-Ateeq claimed that the kingdom has implemented many human rights reforms. Women’s rights have benefited from “the largest share” of these changes.
He suggested that several laws, rules and legal bases have been adopted or amended to ensure that women can enjoy their rights on an equal footing with men.
In particular, gender equality had been promoted in laws relating to traffic, travel documents, marital status, labor and social security.
Al-Ateeq said the kingdom has taken special measures to “speed up equality in different areas”. He also noted that the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has launched the Women’s Empowerment Initiative as well as a national platform for Saudi women’s leaders in collaboration with Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University.
He also mentioned the “Self-Employment Support” program, which provides women with opportunities to increase their income, including through “part-time” and “telework” programs. These allow them to find a work-life balance, while giving women in rural and remote areas access to the labor market.
Al-Ateeq said Saudi women’s economic participation increased by 94% between 2017 and 2020, and that women in leadership and middle management positions increased from 28.6% in 2017 to 41.4% in the first quarter of 2021.
According to him, Saudi women have held high-level international positions and participated in international and regional organizations, such as the UN.
Al-Ateeq cited examples: Thuraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund and Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Lubna al-Ansari, Deputy Director-General of the World Health Organization for Measuring, Evaluating and Developing International Health Services.
“Saudi women occupy a prominent place, especially in the labor market, where the relevant authorities have worked to strengthen their empowerment and participation in leadership positions with men,” said Arafat al-Majed, a former member of Qatif City Council.
She also claimed that the Saudi leadership had ordered the authorities to develop women’s empowerment as one of the key elements of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan. Al-Majed adds that “thanks to new laws, rules and reforms, a large number of Saudi women have been able to work in the public and private sectors”.
Al-Majed, also a Saudi radio host, said: “Today, Saudi women hold leadership positions in government: there is actually a deputy minister, a deputy secretary, two Saudi ambassadors abroad as well as many female leaders.”
She added that “in the media field, Israa Asiri is the Executive Director of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media. This is a female leader who is fully capable of handling authority.”
“Eventually, Saudi women have become major partners in social development and an active element.”
According to Shuaa al-Duhailan, a member of the Labor Committee of the Federation of Saudi Chambers, women’s empowerment is not new in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Duhailan, also chairman of Asharqia’s Household Centers and Salon Committee, added that women are on the rise in the kingdom. They take advantage of many opportunities without encountering obstacles, hence the national strategies adopted for this success.
Maryam H. Alshammari, Human Resources Manager at the advertising agency Bawabat Al-Mahtawi, praised the sustainable development in Saudi Arabia, which is “based on well-researched action plans through which all available resources can be used”.
She added that the Kingdom is well aware that its people are its real wealth. There are also well-designed work plans through which citizens can benefit from the resources available in the country. These plans have in fact taken into account the economic situation as well as the social and human dimension of the work.
Al-Shammari reaffirmed that working conditions in Saudi Arabia are now more efficient and transparent thanks to major national reforms. This has made a significant contribution to achieving sustainable development and to the “economic empowerment of women in several sectors of activity”.
This text is the translation of an article published on Arabnews.com