Educated women ‘have a duty to work,’ says Jets International founder

Educated women should also work because they have a social responsibility. (SPA)
Updated 11 April 2018

Educated women ‘have a duty to work,’ says Jets International founder

  • Woman should get a position because of her own competence and knowledge
  • Each gender needs the other as a correction
JEDDAH: Educated, capable women have an obligation to society to take their place in the workforce, according to Jean Elsner, CEO and founder of Jets International, which provides workplace training for women.
Ideally, women should be hired on merit, Elsner said. But in countries such as Saudi Arabia, where the government is striving to give women greater opportunities in employment, quotas were needed to help kickstart the process.
“I was against quotas,” she said. “I believe a woman should get a position because of her own competence and knowledge, and because she is worthy of the position.”
Quotas were needed to make women in the workplace a social norm. Once that was achieved, she said, the hiring of women based on their merit would follow naturally.
In a conservative society, such as Saudi Arabia, men and women work separately in many areas, including education and government bodies. “I believe organizations that separate men and women in the workplace are losing a lot,” Elsner said.
“Mixed atmospheres are more healthy and productive,” she said. “Each gender needs the other as a correction.”
Elsner says educated women should also work because they have a social responsibility.
“An educated women should ask herself what is she doing to (help) society. It is considered stealing not to give knowledge back to the society — it is a duty.”
Elsner said that raising a family is a small contribution to the society, and women can do a lot more.
Married women with families are more reliable and productive than women without family responsibilities. “They are super-organized, reliable and efficient,” she said.
Elsner has worked extensively coaching and training women in management positions in the West and in Arab countries, particularly Egypt.
Women’s qualifications in the Arab world are much more varied than in Europe, she said.

“In Europe, women usually go for teaching, nursing, medicine, and areas that are socially related, while more women in the Arab world go for fields that are occupied mainly by men, such as engineering.”
Women around the world face the same problems and difficulties, she said. “It is always challenging to find acceptance in a male-dominant world.”
Elsner said her experience working in the Arab region in the past decade had been highly rewarding.
“I worked with women’s associations in Egypt, Lebanon, Algeria, and Tunisia. The past 12 years of my life have been the best. The Arab world has changed my way of thinking,” she said.
Elsner described Arab women as “high-potential individuals, ready to take the initiative, express themselves and try.”


Culture documentation by Saudi ministry to help dispel misconceptions

Updated 22 October 2020

Culture documentation by Saudi ministry to help dispel misconceptions

  • Dia hopes the documenting process will be done professionally and without bias

JEDDAH: Saudi artists welcomed the Ministry of Culture’s first-of-its-kind 16/13 initiative, documenting the diversity of Saudi culture and art through a visual library.
The library will display 16 aspects of culture and heritage through photography and videography that represent the 13 regions of the Kingdom.
Researchers will go around Saudi Arabia to meet creatives, and study their work, for inclusion in the initiative.
“This is an important step for the Kingdom, and it’s a global one to document visual art, whether works of art or cinema,” Dia Aziz Dia, Saudi artist and sculptor, told Arab News.
He added: “It’s important because this creates a database and can be used as a reference to study and compare paintings, photography, sculpting and various types of art, how they differ from one region to the next.”
It could also let government bodies discover art worthy of being put into museums for display, said Dia.
“It’s a good way to document history as well, and to study works of art and the standards of art here,” he said. “It’s on a global level and it’s done everywhere in the world, from England to the US.”
Dia hopes the documenting process will be done professionally and without bias.
He also said it was not easy to compile these works. “It’s an elaborate process to be able to get hold of all the works across the Kingdom. It’s an operation that requires organization, extensive studying and the cooperation of the Society of Culture and Arts and artists as well.”
Saad Tahaitah, documentary filmmaker and photographer, told Arab News that the initiative was promising. He was exposed to it through Saudi photographer Nawaf Al-Shehri, who has been traveling to help with the documentation process.
“The ministry’s been doing an incredible job; they’re (Nawaf and his team) going around the Kingdom and filming content for an actual library,” he said.
Tahaitah has worked on numerous short films on his own to depict the culture and heritage of Asir region, in the southwest of the country. He said he would not trade it for any other place and wished only to film in his hometown.
“I got into documentaries because I wanted honest storytelling. I didn’t want to write a script and hire actors, although that works for some,” he said. “The way I’ve been doing film is to let the person I’m filming go about their day and I let my camera roll.”
Tahaitah started documenting Asir because he wanted to dispel the misconceptions about it, and the stereotypes created through media like “Tash Ma Tash,” the famous Saudi comedy show.
“Asir is full of natural beauty and scenery to capture. It’s diverse in its sights and the people who live in it. Every once in a while, I realize there’s a thing I never noticed before and I film it, and I’ve lived here all my life. The way of life here, simply, can inspire you,” he said.
He added: “We don’t have one particular dance or only sit and dine in a huddle. In a way, I just wanted to showcase the reality of Asir because I love it.”
He said that this initiative could correct inaccuracies shared about certain areas in the Kingdom.