RIYADH: The British Embassy in Riyadh recently hosted a Ghabga, a Ramadan event for female UK alumni to network, share experiences and celebrate Saudi women.
“Women’s networks anywhere in the world are incredibly important. I think women have a special responsibility to other women to support them, to empower them, and to help them progress their careers,” Eilidh Kennedy McLean, the country director of the British Council, told Arab News.
The event saw the alumni and guests have poetry readings and open discussions.
The word Ghabga translates to gathering in Arabic and is an event that takes place late in the evenings during Ramadan.
“We wanted to have an event during Ramadan because it is a very special time for us and all of our Saudi alumni in the country. We wanted to reconnect with all of our female friends and celebrate this special time together,” said McLean.
The event opened with McLean highlighting the gathering’s importance. “One of the strongest networks we have as women is the support of other women,” she said.
“I think this is a fantastic opportunity for us all to meet new friends, build our networks and benefit from the kinship of other women,” McLean said.
The women’s event also served as a celebration of the Saudi Year of Poetry.
Wedyan Al-Madani, a Saudi staff member of the UK embassy, read out two poems about the year of poetry and the Kingdom’s women.
Several discussions were held including on challenges in the workplace. A talk on health was led by Dr. Amina Butt, a consultant in obstetrics and gynecology.
The participants tackled misconceptions and challenges women face around health, with topics including contraception, treating menstrual pain, and menopause.
“Support groups are really helpful to raise the awareness among women on certain problems plus it’s also important that women can share their experiences and their stories with each other and they are learning,” Butt said.
During her discussion, many women in the audience highlighted the health challenges they face, and the need for more support groups on miscarriage and menopause.
To ensure inclusivity and accessibility Butt said these support groups “need to be multicultural and multilingual so that everybody can share. Saudi is expanding and we do need to work as a big society and not in small pockets.”