We can no longer count the number of changes that have taken place in the Kingdom, that have been woven into the fabric of our daily lives in the span of a few years. There’s no doubt about it: The determination of our leadership and the roadmap of Vision 2030, along with the flexibility and capability of our people to transform, have made these changes possible.
Having a majority of the population under the age of 30, many of whom received a high level of education abroad mainly through scholarship programs, has facilitated this metamorphosis, which in itself is nothing more than an expected stage in the evolutionary process of our country.
We all know that the most visible of these changes pertains to women; indeed, one of Vision 2030’s priorities is women’s empowerment. Women are driving, traveling, and working in different sectors. More women are in the marketplace and are sharing the financial responsibilities of the family. They are learning to become viable members of society, worthy competitors to their male counterparts, and an essential source of income to the national economy.
When talking to young women, I often hear the same comment repeated: Had it not been for Vision 2030, women would not have achieved the present successes. But hold on a minute — does this not erase the existence of previous female generations who toiled quietly in so-called traditional sectors, such as the education and medical fields, to participate in the economy? Does this not negate the fact that we have women mentors we should thank for opening the doors when they were still bolted? It is as if it were being said that women suddenly appeared out of nowhere with the introduction of Vision 2030, implying that before 2016, women did not work.
From engaging in fieldwork and shepherding to teaching at schools and universities and working at hospitals, women have been the silent backbone of society: Resilient and astoundingly bold.
While the circumstances are now different, women have been working forever. From engaging in fieldwork and shepherding to teaching at schools and universities and working at hospitals, women have been the silent backbone of society: Resilient and astoundingly bold. A generation of women unintroduced to the rhetoric of empowerment was heading toward it without realizing it.
Today we still have among us women who are to be celebrated for what they have done, for the social history they have helped write, and without whom the women of today and tomorrow would be nowhere. Women like Thoraya Obaid, Princess Moudi bint Khaled, Lubna Al-Olayan, and many others who perhaps had less fame but whose impact was felt nonetheless, have all left deep footprints in the history of our nation. Please remember that.
• Hoda Al-Helaissi has been a member of the Shoura Council since 2013. She is also a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee within Shoura.