MUSCAT, 10 March 2004 — The appointment of Dr. Rawya bint Saud Al-Busaidi as Oman’s first woman minister with a Cabinet portfolio has been welcomed across the nation, especially among women.
Her appointment as Higher Education Minister was made by Sultan Qaboos in a royal decree issued on Monday to coincide with International Women’s Day. Dr. Rawya was formerly higher education undersecretary and replaces Dr. Yahya ibn Mahfoudh Al-Mantheri. Another royal decree made him president of the State Council, Oman’s upper house of Parliament, in place of Sheikh Hamoud ibn Abdullah Al-Harthy who died last week.
The royal decree has given a boost to the position of women in Oman, according to Rahilah Al-Riyami, a member of the sultanate’s Majlis Al-Shoura, the lower house of Parliament. She spoke of the achievements of Omani women in a number of fields over the last three decades. Herself an educator, Al-Riyami said Dr. Rawya with a Western Ph.D. would be able use her rich experience for the good of education in the country.
In Oman women make up 61 percent of college students and 55 percent at Sultan Qaboos University at diploma level.
Shakoor bint Mohammed Al-Ghammari, Oman’s most experienced woman parliamentarian, said Omani women had realized the importance of their roles in developing society and have enthusiastically set out to serve the community.
“We are proud to see a woman holding a Cabinet portfolio and making history,” said Al-Ghammari.
She quoted the Omani ruler’s historic speech in which he said: “We call upon women everywhere, in the villages and the cities, in both urban and bedouin communities, in the hills and mountains, to roll up their sleeves and contribute to the process of economic and social development.”