Saudi W20 presidency ‘extraordinary,’ says Australia head

Erin Watson-Lynn, head of Australia’s delegation to the W20, center, believes that an ideal society is one where people have the opportunity to reach their potential. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 21 October 2020

Saudi W20 presidency ‘extraordinary,’ says Australia head

  • Coronavirus pandemic puts spotlight on women’s empowerment, Erin Watson-Lynn claims

RIYADH: The head of Australia’s delegation to the W20, the G20 women’s engagement unit, has described the Saudi presidency of the group as “extraordinary.”

Erin Watson-Lynn added that the coronavirus pandemic has had some positive effects in highlighting and accelerating women’s empowerment.

“I’ve got to say the Saudi presidency of the W20 through Dr. Thoraya Obaid and Salma Al-Rashid and the team has been extraordinary in terms of how they’ve managed and organized the W20 this year. I think it’s been outstanding. So a lot of credit goes to their leadership,” she told Arab News.

“Before the pandemic, women’s empowerment was a huge imperative. Women are overrepresented in low-pay, low-skilled part-time work, so empowering women in the economy is the key to inclusive growth. And the pandemic just accelerates all of this and puts a spotlight on it,” she added.

Watson-Lynn said that women have been burdened by unpaid domestic work, and having to balance work and family responsibilities.

The G20 needs to measure what is going on in terms of gender in the economy. Once you’re measuring data, then you can have policy interventions that you can measure. I think the Workplace Gender Equality Agency in Australia is an example that other countries can look at.

Erin Watson-Lynn, Head of Australia’s delegation to the W20

In Australia, she added, the number of academic papers submitted to journals increased, but the proportion of women submitting them decreased.

“Men can contribute more during this time because they’re working from home. But women working from home need to balance the domestic responsibilities so their contribution to knowledge is decreasing,” she said.

One of the key positions the Australian delegation promoted in the W20 is the use of data, Watson-Lynn said. “You can’t identify your weak spots and you can’t measure progress if you aren’t collecting data.

“The G20 needs to measure what is going on in terms of gender in the economy. Once you’re measuring data, then you can have policy interventions that you can measure. I think the Workplace Gender Equality Agency in Australia is an example that other countries can look at,” she added.




Erin Watson-Lynn

The pandemic has made it feasible to integrate family and work, Watson-Lynn said, adding that women continue to do far more unpaid household labor than men. “So encouraging men to take on more flexibility is important. I think the pandemic has demonstrated to some men that it’s possible. And we see a lot more integration between men and family,” she said.

Watson-Lynn warned that equality concerns both men and women and that there always has to be some balance between taking care of children and work, “but how you split that balance between different people in a household, that’s important.”

Her vision of an ideal society is one where people have the choice and freedom to lead the lives they want and have the opportunity to reach their potential. “That sounds lofty, up in the air and idealistic, but when you think about it, this comes down to being economically empowered, politically empowered and being able to make choices about your life.”

FASTFACT

Erin Watson-Lynn began her career as a labor market analyst. She has written many papers on gender, work, employment and entrepreneurship.

Although the G20 is different this year after moving online, it has been easy for delegates to attend events, Watson-Lynn said. “We can take part in a way that we’ve not been able to before. We have met far more regularly because the meetings are online and we’ve been far more focused on outcomes at each meeting than ever before.”

Having those regular meetings has been good for the W20, she added.

Watson-Lynn began her career as a labor market analyst. She has written many papers on gender, work, employment and entrepreneurship, but a big part of her work through the G20 has been focused on women. “I guess my career has been focused on the international relations space. So it’s been a bit of a hybrid career in that sense. It’s great to be able to contribute to international policymaking through the G20,” she said.


Saudi vegan bodybuilder slams diet myths

Nutrition is the most important part when it comes to bodybuilding, then comes type of exercise, and good rest. (AFP)
Updated 29 November 2020

Saudi vegan bodybuilder slams diet myths

  • Ali Al-Salam, who stopped consuming animal products in 2017, says certain steps must be completed to have an athletic body

JEDDAH: The vegan diet has risen in popularity in Saudi Arabia in recent years and has been a constant topic of debate among Saudis, attracting the interest of many, including athletes.

Ongoing debates about whether the vegan diet is sufficient for normal people, let alone bodybuilders, abound, but one Saudi is answering them physically.
Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes all animal products from diets, clothing or any other purposes.
Over the years, a number of studies have found that people who eat vegan or vegetarian diets have a lower risk of heart disease, but other studies have also placed them at a higher risk of stroke, possibly due to the lack of vitamin B12, an essential vitamin that reduces the risk of anemia and neurological diseases.
Speaking to Arab News, 33-year-old Saudi vegan bodybuilder, Ali Al-Salam, who first started his vegan diet three years ago when he was suffering from high blood pressure, highlighted that the consumption of animal products is a deep rooted idea among bodybuilders and athletes.
“We always hear that in order to build muscle, we must consume animal products. In some parts of the world, there are people who can only have a small amount of animal products yet they live their lives healthily and comfortably and are not suffering from malnutrition — on the contrary, they have a lower level of chronic illnesses.”

When I consumed meat and animal products, I suffered from high blood pressure; it was 190 over 110, and I wasn’t even 30 yet. Two weeks into the vegan diet, it went down to 150. The vegan diet did what couldn’t be done with medications for me.

Ali Al-Salam, Saudi vegan bodybuilder

He said it also opened his eyes to what goes on in the dairy and meat industry; he began researching in 2016 and decided to become vegan in 2017.
“I was just like every other athlete, I used to consume a high amounts of protein. I remember in the last days before turning vegan, I used to have 10 egg whites and a piece of steak for breakfast to fulfil my protein needs. This made me think, ‘is this the only way to consume protein?’ And from then on, I started researching and got introduced to the vegan diet at a larger scale,” he said.
“When I consumed meat and animal products, I suffered from high blood pressure; it was 190 over 110, and I wasn’t even 30 yet. Two weeks into the vegan diet, it went down to 150. The vegan diet did what couldn’t be done with medications for me.”
He explained that bodybuilding does not solely rely on protein, and that there are steps that must be completed in order to reach an athletic body. Nutrition is the most important part, then comes type of exercise, and good rest.
“When we talk about good nutrition, it does not just rely on protein. Yes, it is important, but the amount of calories in general is more important,” he said.
“Let’s say you needed 200 grams of protein, does that mean if you consumed 200 grams of it, you would gain muscle? No. You need all the basic nutrients to reach a certain amount of calories in general,” he added.
He highlighted that as soon as people register for gym memberships, they immediately look for supplements because they think they cannot reach the needed amount of protein.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes all animal products from diets, clothing or any other purposes.

• Over the years, a number of studies have found that people who eat vegan or vegetarian diets have a lower risk of heart disease.

• But other studies have also placed them at a higher risk of stroke, possibly due to the lack of vitamin B12, an essential vitamin that reduces the risk of anemia and neurological diseases.

• Vegan athletes have more endurance, strength and faster muscle recovery, because the vegan diet is rich in antioxidants.

• Animal products sometimes cause inflammation, that your body needs to recover from in the first place.

“I’m talking about non-vegans here too, where their protein intake is already high. Marketing plays a big role here. People link protein to animal products because our society grew up with this idea as well.
“Can a vegan build muscle? Yes, when they eat right, exercise correctly and rest well. The misconception about protein stems from amino acids. People think vegan food lacks amino acids, and only animal products are full of them and that is far from the truth,” he added.
When comparing vegan athletes to regular athletes, he said vegan athletes have more endurance, strength and faster muscle recovery, because the vegan diet is rich in antioxidants which helps greatly in recovery, and because “animal products sometimes cause inflammation, that your body needs to recover from in the first place.”