Saudi Vision 2030 is positive move in global campaign: UK envoy for gender equality

Saudi Vision 2030 is positive move in global campaign: UK envoy for gender equality
1 / 2
Saudi Vision 2030 is positive move in global campaign: UK envoy for gender equality
2 / 2
Updated 21 March 2018

Saudi Vision 2030 is positive move in global campaign: UK envoy for gender equality

Saudi Vision 2030 is positive move in global campaign: UK envoy for gender equality

RIYADH: Women and men working together will drive social and economic change, Joanna Roper, the UK Foreign Office’s Special Envoy for Gender Equality, said in an exclusive interview with Arab News during the Women’s Economic Forum that opened in Riyadh on Monday.
"We talked earlier at the forum about working with men who are our allies and champions, and only together can we really see a change," Roper said.
"I think the changes we are seeing in Saudi Arabia with Vision 2030 are a positive move. I met a few of the delegation on the crown prince’s visit to London. That was my first encounter with Saudi men and women who are looking to change the economy. To bring more women in, and I think this is really positive."
Roper said that the UK was a firm supporter of Saudi Arabia "in whatever way it can be."
She said the UK's foreign secretary had made girls’ education a priority and this was an area of shared interest.
"In terms of specific things we are doing in cooperation with Saudi Arabia, with the British Council and in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, is the training of PE teachers for girls, so this is where international cooperation really comes in. Also, in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), there has been cooperation across the border, in supporting women in STEM and helping them become female STEM leaders. That’s something that we are all very passionate about in the UK Foreign Office."
Roper said that many families already recognized the value of education for boys and girls. "If we can build on that and continue to talk about the real value and benefit of education, then the case makes itself."
Roper, who took up her role in April last year, said she saw her job as supporting and helping the British government in its gender equality work. "For example, the Foreign Office has a whole lot of work for, let’s say, women’s peace and security, and international development. They do a lot on our program work: education, economic empowerment, political participation as well.
"What I try to do is support all their work when we are talking to partners overseas. My job is not to tell people what to do, it’s about where can we find a way to work together.