RIYADH: Equality for men and women at home and in the workplace was key to achieving social and economic reform in Saudi Arabia, according to Princess Moudi bint Khalid.
The Saudi royal was speaking at a conference being held on the heels of International Women’s Day, during which she highlighted the importance of a gender-balanced society to the success of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan.
Princess Moudi was addressing delegates in her role as general secretary of the board of directors of conference organizer Al-Nahda, a nonprofit body which has been working to empower women for 57 years through education and financial support.
She said this year’s conference theme “Balance for Better,” should be a goal all year round and not just for one day.
“I pray that we work together to achieve a balance between both genders in all fields, whether at home or in the workplace,” the princess said, while also emphasizing Al-Nahda’s important role in empowering women and announcing that the organization will launch a book documenting its journey.
Historian and author Sultan Al-Mousa became the first man to speak at a public event at Al-Nahda’s headquarters when he gave a talk on the competition in ancient civilizations between men and women.
Al-Mousa described how women were once considered sacred and holy beings, before being persecuted, and he spoke about their different roles throughout history.
Dr. Moudhi Al-Jamea, a Saudi telecom executive and “ethical hacker,” spoke about the lack of women in the technology sector.
She told the conference that there were many reasons for this, such as the lack of female role models and many families viewing it as an unattractive career for women.
Al-Jamea said she was the only female Ph.D. graduate in cybersecurity. “We have lots of universities that have tech roles and subjects, but there is a disconnection in the industry.”
During part of the conference, delegates were plunged into darkness following an electricity cut. However, with the audience using lights on their mobile phones, Maha Taher, VP of the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Co., was able to deliver her speech on the challenges of being a working mother and finding a balance between her personal life and career.
“Take it slow and enjoy every phase of your life,” she said. “If you’re a mom, enjoy your children; if you’re a CEO, enjoy your success.”
Taher stressed the importance of equity over equality. “Women don’t want to be a façade. Don’t give us positions if we don’t deserve it. Give it for competency, not to fill a void.”