RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is moving “with all determination and firmness” to secure the “effective and real empowerment of women” so they can live without facing any discrimination, according to Mohammed Al-Ateeq, chargé d’affaires of the Kingdom’s permanent delegation to the UN.
During the recent annual meeting of the executive board of the UN Commission for Women and Gender Equality, Al-Ateeq emphasized Saudi Arabia’s interest in the strategy for gender equality and women’s empowerment, which ran from 2018 to 2021.
Al-Ateeq pointed out that the Kingdom has conducted extensive human rights reforms, with women’s rights receiving “the largest share” of these changes.
He said that several laws, regulations and legal bases had been issued or amended to ensure that women enjoy their rights on an equal basis with men.
Gender equality has been advanced most notably in the laws surrounding traffic, travel documentation, civil status, labor and social insurance.
Al-Ateeq said that the Kingdom has taken special measures to “accelerate equality in various fields,” noting that the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development launched the women empowerment initiative, as well as a national platform for Saudi women leaders in collaboration with Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University.
Al-Ateeq also pointed to the “support for self-employment” program, which broadens opportunities for women to increase their income, especially through the “part-time work” and “remote work” programs. These enable women to strike a balance between work and family while also allowing women in rural and remote areas to participate in the labor market.
He said that the rate of Saudi female economic participation increased by 94 percent between 2017 and 2020, and the rate of women in senior and middle management positions increased from 28.6 percent in 2017 to 41.4 percent in the first quarter of 2021.
Al-Ateeq said Saudi women have held senior international positions and participated in international and regional organizations such as the UN.
He noted the cases of Thuraya Ahmed Obaid, the executive director of the UN Population Fund and assistant secretary-general of the UN, and Lubna Al-Ansari, who was the World Health Organization’s assistant director general for international health service measurement, evaluation and development.
“Saudi women enjoy a prominent position, especially in the labor market, where the competent authorities have worked to raise the percentage of women’s empowerment in the labor market and their participation in leadership positions alongside the man,” said Arafat Al-Majed, a former member of Qatif Municipal Council.
She told the commission that the Saudi leadership has directed authorities to develop women’s empowerment as one of the most prominent sections of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plans, “so it was remarkable that large numbers of Saudi women were able to work in the public and private sectors, thanks to new legislation, regulations and reforms.”
Al-Majed, who is also a broadcaster on Saudi Radio, said: “Today, Saudi women hold leadership positions in the government apparatus, starting with deputy minister, undersecretary, and there are two Saudi ambassadors abroad, along with many leading women."
She added: “In our media field, Israa Asiri was the CEO of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media. She is a leading woman who manages the authority with full aptitude.
“What I would like to summarize is that Saudi women have become a major partner in social development and an active element.”
Shuaa Al-Duhailan, a member of the committee on the labor market in the Federation of Saudi Chambers, affirmed that empowering women is not new to Saudi Arabia.
Al-Duhailan, who is also chairperson of the committee on women’s centers and saloons in Asharqia Chamber, added that women are still progressing in the Kingdom, enjoying many opportunities without facing obstacles, pointing to the adopted national strategies for this success.
Maryam H. Alshammari, a human resources officer at Bawabat Al-Mahtawi Agency for Advertising, praised sustainable development in Saudi Arabia “based on well-studied action plans through which all resources can be utilized available.”
She added that the Kingdom realizes that its people are the real wealth of the country, noting that there are well-studied work plans through which citizens can benefit from the resources available in the country, noting that these plans have taken into account the economic, social and human dimensions of work.
Alshammari confirmed that work environments in Saudi Arabia are now more efficient and transparent, thanks to the major national reforms, noting that this has contributed significantly to achieving sustainable development and “the economic empowerment of women in multiple business sectors.”