G20 women’s group focuses on importance of inclusion

Thoraya Obaid was speaking on Wednesday at the W20 Summit. (Supplied)
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Updated 21 October 2020

G20 women’s group focuses on importance of inclusion

  • In its final gathering ahead of the main G20 summit in November, the W20 highlights the economic and social benefits of empowerment efforts

RIYADH: In its final communique ahead of the main G20 Summit next month, the forum’s Women 20 (W20) engagement group highlighted the importance of inclusion.

The group identified four key types of inclusivity, the first three of which are in financial matters, in the labor force, and digital inclusion.

“The fourth that we added was inclusion in decision making because we felt women need to be at the decision-making table, to be able to bring all the community together when (a female leader) sits at the table. We talked about the different levels of community leadership,” said Thoraya Obaid, the Saudi chair of the W20.

“The other issue that we brought up is entrepreneurship … because this is an area that is on the rise and they need a great deal of support, from finance to networking to digital.”

During last year’s W20 summit in Japan, the delegates called for greater accountability. Obaid said this year’s participants agree with this and have developed the idea with the aim of “holding the G20 leaders accountable for decisions that they have made in terms of empowering women.”

Obaid was speaking on Wednesday at the W20 Summit, during a session titled “Nordic Perspective: The Economic Benefits of Women’s Empowerment,” which was moderated by Noor Nugali, assistant editor-in-chief of Arab News. It aimed to highlight the economic benefits of including women in the workforce and inspire the ongoing efforts to empower women by considering the experiences of the Nordic nations in these areas.

“We simply cannot achieve 100 percent of our potential by only using 50 percent of our human resources,” said Niclas Trouvé, Sweden’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Yemen. “Therefore, women’s empowerment is not only the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do, especially from an economic point of view.

“This is not about transferring jobs from men to women, nor is it primarily a women’s issue. This is about tapping into the potential of economic growth hidden behind barriers to women’s participation —economic growth that will benefit both men and women.

“After all, no engine can run effectively on only half of its cylinders. We simply don’t get very far with half of the batteries charged. We would probably get stuck in the desert.”

The envoy noted that the global pandemic has had devastating socioeconomic effects on women and girls. He said that the unemployed and those who work at home caring for and nursing others, often unpaid, are are among the most vulnerable groups during times of crisis.

“Most of these groups are largely made up of women,” he added. “This is yet another reason why we need to strengthen our work toward global economic equality.”

Trouvé said he is proud that Nordic countries have been champions of gender equality and the empowerment of women for many years.

“We have achieved impressive results but we also recognize that we are still far from realizing the full potential of a truly equal society,” he added

Since the 1970s, he said, the participation of women in the workforce has increased significantly in all Nordic countries, and their empowerment has contributed immensely to high levels of employment and economic growth.

“The increase of women’s employment over the past 40 to 50 years accounts for up to 20 percent of our annual growth rates,” he said.

“In Sweden, for example, three reforms in the 1970s paved the way for increased women’s participation: first, access to affordable childcare; second, a more equal and affordable division of parental leave; and third, individual taxation.”

Trouvé said that when he visits businesses, he is often told that greater diversity among employees is a key factor in achieving high levels of innovation, creativity, performance and work satisfaction.

“So, women’s participation is not just a question of quantity, it is also a question of quality and competitiveness,” he added.

Annual per capita growth could increase by 15 to 30 percent in Nordic countries if the gender gap in employment is completely closed, Trouvé said. “Just imagine the untapped potential of sustainable economic growth available here in Saudi Arabia and in other parts of the world,” he added.

The ambassador also welcomed recent steps taken by authorities in Saudi Arabia to empower women, and hailed the rapidly increasing number of Saudi women that have joined the workforce as “a very important development indeed.”

He said the recent commitment by the Saudi government to close gender pay gap is another positive step toward achieving the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals.

“All countries, regardless of income levels, could increase growth and help diversify the economy” by doing the same, Trouvé said.

Saudi Arabia holds the presidency of the G20 this year and the group’s annual summit is due to be held in Riyadh in November. The W20 is one of several independent G20 engagement groups led by organizations from the host country. They focus on different sections and sectors of society and work to develop policy recommendations that will be presented to G20 leaders for consideration.
 


On the go with Saudi Arabia’s first professionally trained cycling club

Doves Ride is Saudi Arabia’s first professional cycling team, licensed both locally and internationally. (Supplied)
Updated 40 sec ago

On the go with Saudi Arabia’s first professionally trained cycling club

  • Saudi Arabia’s female population is enjoying the new wave of opportunities to live a healthy lifestyle

RIYADH: As sports and other activities continue to gain popularity in Saudi Arabia, residents are seeking out exciting ways to get moving.
The Kingdom’s female population are enjoying the new wave of opportunities that have been made available to them in recent years to live a healthy lifestyle.
Hiking, outdoor yoga and football are all popular choices, but one less familiar pastime on the increase is cycling.
Events such as the annual Saudi Tour and the General Sports Authority’s highly successful all-women’s cycling race in Jeddah in 2018 have fostered a growing interest in the sport.
Studies have shown that cycling improves overall health, more specifically improving mental health, strengthening the immune system, promoting weight loss, reducing heart disease and cancer and more.
Riding a bike can be one of the easiest forms of returning to fitness when you are bouncing back from an injury or illness.

Doves Ride organizes rides for all levels, from the gentle trails suitable for beginners to the more challenging routes for hardened cyclists. The group offers lessons that can help any beginner ride a bike safely. (Supplied)

A group of bike enthusiasts from Riyadh intend to spread the word and make people more aware of the healthy advantages of cycling and the joy that can be had on the back of a bicycle.
Doves Ride is Saudi Arabia’s first professional cycling team, licensed both locally and internationally. Shahd Alturki, Doves Ride’s founder and a professional cycling trainer, spoke to Arab News about why she set up the team.

HIGHLIGHTS

• A group of bike enthusiasts from Riyadh intend to spread the word and make people more aware of the healthy advantages of cycling and the joy that can be had on the back of a bicycle.

• Doves Ride is Saudi Arabia’s first professional cycling team, licensed both locally and internationally.

• Riding a bike can be one of the easiest forms of returning to fitness when you are bouncing back from an injury or illness.

“I founded Doves Ride to create an environment for women and families where they could get into sports,” Alturki said.
Based in Riyadh, Doves Ride’s goal is to create an environment where Saudis can discover what biking is like and meet others with similar interests.
“The idea was to create a team that would motivate Saudi society to start biking, and to raise awareness in general about sport and movement. We also wanted to help teach Saudis to cycle by creating a program to teach people in all categories,” she said.
Doves Ride organizes rides for all levels, from the gentle trails suitable for beginners to the more challenging routes for hardened cyclists.
“We welcome participants at any level, whether they are looking for a long-term membership or just to try it out,” said Alturki.
She also spoke about the benefits of the sport and hopes to encourage people to try it out for themselves.
“Biking is more than just a fun sport; it raises your fitness levels and can also boost your mental health,” she said.
For the more hesitant, Alturki reassures them that she is well-equipped to train them and get them on the path to biking like a pro.
“We have bike-riding lessons for zero-experience learners, licensed by the British Cycling Federation. Children, men and women are all welcome to take them. These lessons can help any beginner ride a bike safely, and teaches them all the necessary skills and basics,” she said.
Doves Ride can be contacted via their Twitter or Instagram accounts, @dovesride.