Allowing women to drive will create 50,000 jobs in Saudi Arabia

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During the event, women were urged to invest in the great transformations society is witnessing, through active participation and taking advantage of the series of historic decisions issued by the government.(AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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AN photo by Huda Bashatah
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AN photo by Huda Bashatah
Updated 11 July 2018

Allowing women to drive will create 50,000 jobs in Saudi Arabia

  • The leadership of women will contribute to providing a large number of job opportunities
  • The Saudi government aim to achieve social justice by enhancing the role of women

JEDDAH: A two-day forum targeting 20,000 women and bringing together under one roof all the services related to women driving began on Sunday.
Specialists at the forum expect that lifting the ban on women driving will create more than 50,000 jobs after a year.
The event, titled “You Take the Lead,” was inaugurated at Leylaty Hall by Prince Khalid bin Sultan Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation.
Six bodies related to women’s driving services and facilitation are participating, including the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Media, with the strategic partnership of Traffic Management, the Saudi Committee of Traffic Safety and the Standardization Committee, in addition to automobile dealers, banks, insurance companies and logistical service providers.
The program of the first day of the event included seminars by distinguished speakers discussing the economic effects of Saudi women driving, penalties for obstructing women from driving, how lifting the ban on women driving will create new jobs for women, the negative aspects of depending on expat drivers, and finally the success story of the first Saudi female rally driver.
The prince said that the decisions taken by the Saudi government aim to achieve social justice by enhancing the role of women as they represent half of the community, and are a main component to achieve economic growth according to the strategies set out in Vision 2030.
He called on Saudi women to invest in the great transformations society is witnessing, through active participation and taking advantage of the series of historic decisions issued by the government to support Saudi women. The prince expected that the leadership of women will contribute to providing a large number of job opportunities and help women enter the labor market, achieving one of the pillars of Vision 2030, with is to raise the participation rate of women from 22 to 30 percent.
President of the forum’s organizing company Suhail Al-Tayyar stressed that they work through the forum to raise awareness of the role of women in the country’s economic, social and cultural development, in addition to providing quality services, creating job opportunities, and making the best conditions for women. He also revealed the requirements of women’s leadership as a key partner in the community and the role of car dealers in the provision of facilities and technology in vehicles and accessories for women, as well as the banking and insurance sector services.
The managing editor of Al-Bilad newspaper and Aqra’a magazine, Manal Al-Sherif, spoke about the economic and social disadvantages of depending on expat drivers, and how to deal with them.
When Rasha Imam, the first Saudi rally driver, spoke about her experience and success, she said she was thrilled with the lifting the ban on women driving as she will be able to represent her country in many competitions.
She plans to move forward to participate in Arab and global races, noting that she received a degree in business administration from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah and works in the field of marketing and public relations. She has benefited from traveling abroad with her family to learn to drive and master a lot of leadership skills.
Basma Khazneh, driving trainer and one of the invited guests at the forum, told Arab News: “When I first came to Saudi Arabia 22 years ago I was shocked that women were not able to drive, and now I am very happy that my dream came true and I can finally drive in Saudi Arabia.
“I already have public and private vehicle driving licenses, and also an international driving license, and I would be very glad to have the chance to train Saudi women.”
Samia Basha, 34, an attendee at the forum, told Arab News: “I am here to look at the offers car dealers are providing for us. I cannot wait to get my license and set off!
“We have waited too long,” she added.


Saudi rights body calls for law against underage marriages

Updated 22 min 40 sec ago

Saudi rights body calls for law against underage marriages

  • SHRC said it has studied the matter with a number of concerned agencies
  • SHRC said enacting such a law would protect children and maintain their rights

JEDDAH: The Saudi Human Rights Commission (SHRC), the Kingdom’s official human rights institution, has recommended the immediate issuing of a law to ban marriages to people under the age of 18.

It has also warned guardians that preventing daughters aged over 18 from getting married is a crime for which they will be held accountable.

The SHRC said it has studied the matter with a number of concerned agencies, and there are many negative effects of getting married under the age of 18.

It also noted that the Child Protection Law holds parents and caregivers accountable for children’s upbringing and protecting them from abuse.

Human rights activist Dr. Matouq Al-Sharif said the SHRC, in its statement, is drawing attention to practices by guardians that are contrary to international conventions, in particular the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was ratified by the Kingdom via the commission.

“Based on the Paris Principles, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1993, the SHRC was granted the right to provide the (Saudi) government with advisory opinions, recommendations, proposals and reports,” Al-Sharif told Arab News.

He added that the SHRC is responsible for ensuring that national legislation, regulations and practices harmonize with the international human rights conventions that the Kingdom has signed.

“One of the tasks of this institution is to follow up on the implementation of such formal pacts, and make sure it is effective,” Al-Sharif said.

“From some people’s point of view, Islam gives a guardian the right to wed his daughter. They claim that the Prophet Mohammed married Aisha when she was still 9 or 11, according to some narratives,” Al-Sharif said.

“However, authentic senior Muslim scholars have denied that and said the prophet asked for her hand when she was at that age. They confirm that the wedding was when Aisha was no longer a child.”

The human rights activist noted that the SHRC’s statement is a message to the relevant authorities to enact a law that rejects ideas that are contrary to Islam.

Al-Sharif said that the commission has long sought to change the belief that under-age marriages are permissible.

“It has even interfered to stop a number of marriages to minors in different parts of the country. Moreover, it has issued a medical study in cooperation with the Health Ministry. The study highlighted the health risks to minors of such marriages,” he said.

According to Al-Sharif, the SHRC received a letter from the ministry stating that it had conducted a study on the issue and found serious health risks associated with such marriages.

“The Health Ministry … listed a number of health risks, including osteoporosis … due to lack of calcium, anaemia, abortions, acute high blood pressure that may lead to kidney failure, pelvis and spinal deformities, and many other risks,” he said.

In a statement posted on its Twitter account, the SHRC said enacting such a law would protect children and maintain their rights.

The statement added that many studies have proven that underage marriages have negative physical and psychological effects. It said local and international laws consider people under the age of 18 as children.

The SHRC also issued a statement describing families preventing their adult daughters from marrying as a clear violation of human rights.

The SHRC stressed that Saudi law criminalizes such actions, and that the appropriate authorities would deal with any reported cases. It added that under Shariah law, any woman experiencing such treatment could file a lawsuit.

It has called on relevant authorities to help raise awareness among women about their rights, and to highlight the penalties for those who violate the law.