Wide-ranging reforms have given Saudi women the lead when it comes to improved economic opportunities, according to a World Bank Women, Business and the Law (WBL) report.
The study looked at reforms in 190 countries targeting restrictions on women’s work options.
A series of performance indicators was used to rank countries, with the Kingdom scoring 70.6 out of 100.
For the past decade the World Bank’s WBL project has focused on gender equality and worked to empower women. Its coverage of 190 economies is based on eight indicators relevant to women’s economic participation: Mobility, workplace laws, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets and pension.
The mobility indicator examines constraints on women’s freedom of movement, while the workplace indicator analyzes laws affecting women’s decisions to enter and remain in the labor force. The marriage indicator assesses legal constraints to marriage alongside the parenthood indicator evaluating laws affecting women’s work after having children.
Saudi Arabia has made an outstanding improvement in six out of the eight indicators, with a top ranking among GCC countries.
Undoubtedly, the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reforms have helped Saudi women achieve the outstanding ranking. Government initiatives have empowered women and provided them with equal work opportunities.
Additionally, the Saudi government has allowed women to drive in order to commute easily between their homes and workplace, and also introduced regulations related to women’s work and business, such as giving women 21 years of age and over the right to travel, and protecting women from discrimination, especially with regard to employment and salaries.
All these reforms and others have encouraged Saudi women’s participation in the economy and the labor market.
Women’s contribution to the economy will grow in future in order to meet one of the Vision’s main objectives — raising female participation in the labor market from 22 percent to 35 percent by 2030.
Talat Zaki Hafiz is an economist and financial analyst.