Greater empowerment of Saudi women expected

Updated 12 November 2017

Greater empowerment of Saudi women expected

RIYADH: Saudi women have shown leadership skills but Shoura Council member Haya Al-Munea has noticed their lack of number or absence in key decision-making platforms.

She expects an increased empowerment of women in the future, and they will play a more active and vital role in the decision-making process in various fields in the public and private sectors.

In an interview with the press, Al-Munea — a writer herself — based her belief on the fact that women have not been included on the list of those involved in corruption, in addition to the fact that they’re highly educated.

“Women are more careful about accuracy in work and integrity. They hold positions and are untainted by any manifestation of corruption,” she told an Arabic daily.

She also expressed her firm belief that this will happen if and when efficiency — in addition to integrity and competence — is one of the criteria of choice rather than gender in appointing personnel to leadership positions.

She lauded King Salman’s move of forming a supreme committee to stamp out corruption, going after persons accused of wrongdoing and punishing them if and when they’re found guilty.

She added that they should not be spared no matter what their positions or status in life are so that the initiated administrative reform will succeed, which heralds a better tomorrow for the nation as well as for the Saudi people.

In the public sector, women have shown their brilliance and competence. Ten women out of 30 retained their posts as Shoura Council members when the Kingdom reshuffled the consultative body in early December last year.

By historic royal decrees, they’re among those who advise King Salman on policies and legislation. A majority of them hold doctorate degrees and have held positions in universities across many different fields.

Plans are also afoot for the Kingdom to empower women scholars to play a greater role in the Islamic ruling process. The Shoura Council plans to authorize them to issue fatwas and pave the way for them to contribute to Islamic research rulings.

In diplomacy, the number of female diplomats employed by the Saud Foreign Ministry and working inside and outside Saudi Arabia has risen to 113, according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Osama Nugali.

Abroad, they’re making Saudi Arabia proud. One of them is Manal Radwan, first secretary and political coordinator at the Saudi mission at the United Nations in New York. She attended the George Washington University for her master’s degree in political science and government.

In business and finance, Khlood Aldukheil holds the position of managing director of the Aldukheil Financial Group, a closed company engaged in investment and banking.

She has expertise in various areas, including business formation and restructuring, debt advisory and debt restructuring, risk management and regulatory compliance, and investment banking.

She is currently the president of the National Committee for Statistics under the Saudi Council of Chambers, chairperson of the audit committee for Saudi Orix Financing Company, among others.

For his part, lawyer and arbitrator Ibrahim Al-Hakami attributed the absence of corruption and waste of public money among women to the lack of senior positions available for them.

Al-Hakami also noted that women in leadership positions are few — in stark contrast to their male counterparts — and their number can be counted on the fingers.

“When a woman holds a leadership position, she is more afraid of responsibility than men. It’s because there are only a few women leaders and she’s careful because she wants to keep her position and preserve her reputation, he said.

Activists and writers with social advocacies have also expressed their firm belief in the capability and qualification of women for leadership positions.

“There is no woman in a circle of corruption,” said Halima Muzaffar, a poet, on her official Twitter page, adding that “women are more active and more honest.”


Harassers face ‘naming and shaming’ after Saudi Shoura Council ruling

Updated 01 October 2020

Harassers face ‘naming and shaming’ after Saudi Shoura Council ruling

  • It will help eliminate harassment in workplaces and public places as well as in schools

JEDDAH: Violations of Saudi Arabia’s anti-sexual harassment laws could be punished by “naming and shaming” following a decision by the Kingdom’s Shoura Council to approve a defamation penalty.

The council voted in favor of the penalty during its session on Wednesday after previously rejecting the move in March this year.

Council member Latifah Al-Shaalan said the proposal to include the penalty was sent by the Saudi Cabinet.

Saudi lawyer Njood Al-Qassim said she agrees with the move, adding that it will help eliminate harassment in workplaces and public places as well as in schools.

“The penalty will be imposed according to a court ruling under the supervision of judges, and according to the gravity of the crime and its impact on society,” Al-Qassim told Arab News.

“This will be a deterrent against every harasser and molester,” she said.

Al-Qassim said that legal experts are required to explain the system and its penalties to the public.

“The Public Prosecution has clarified those that may be subject to punishment for harassment crimes, including the perpetrator, instigator and accessory to the crime, the one who agreed with the harasser, malicious report provider, and the person who filed a malicious prosecution lawsuit,” she added.

“The Public Prosecution also confirmed that attempted harassment requires half the penalty prescribed for the crime,” said Al-Qassim.

In May 2018, the Shoura Council and Cabinet approved a measure criminalizing sexual harassment under which offenders will be fined up to SR100,000 ($26,660) and jailed for a maximum of two years, depending on the severity of the crime. 

In the most severe cases, where the victims are children or disabled, for example, violators will face prison terms of up to five years and/or a maximum penalty of SR300,000.

Incidents that have been reported more than once will be subject to the maximum punishment. 

The law seeks to combat harassment crimes, particularly those targeting children under 18 and people with special needs.

Witnesses are also encouraged to report violations and their identities will remain confidential.

The law defines sexual harassment as words or actions that hint at sexuality toward one person from another, or that harms the body, honor or modesty of a person in any way. It takes into account harassment in public areas, workplaces, schools, care centers, orphanages, homes and on social media.

“The legislation aims at combating the crime of harassment, preventing it, applying punishment against perpetrators and protecting the victims in order to safeguard the individual’s privacy, dignity and personal freedom which are guaranteed by Islamic law and regulations,” a statement from the Shoura Council said.

Council member Eqbal Darandari, who supports the law, said on Twitter that the defamation penalty has proven its effectiveness in crimes in which a criminal exploits a person’s trust.

“The defamation of one person is a sufficient deterrent to the rest,” she said.

Social media activist Hanan Abdullah told Arab News the decision “is a great deterrent for every harasser since some fear for their personal and family’s reputation, and won’t be deterred except through fear of defamation.”

The move will protect women from “uneducated people who believe that whoever leaves her house deserves to be attacked and harassed,” she said.

“Anyone who is unhappy with this decision should look at their behavior.”