Saudi women seek wider representation

Saudi women seek wider representation
Updated 13 January 2013

Saudi women seek wider representation

Saudi women seek wider representation

Following the decision of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to appoint 30 women to the Shoura Council, many business experts and social observers raised the question as to whether there are sufficient remarkable names from all fields to represent Saudi society.
Arab News spoke to a number of businesswomen and experts on social issues who confirmed that this is an important development but they called for further appointments of those with expertise in fields such as economy, industry and civil society.
Nahed Taher, CEO and founder of Gulf One Investment Bank, said the contribution of women is really needed which is why the king's step is important.
"I really appreciate such a step and we need to make the best of it. I hope to see further changes in the field of economy, especially in terms of creating new regulations and bylaws," she said. "I look forward to seeing names from different backgrounds like the legal arena, government investments and accounting. Such fields will be an added value. The main challenge for those newly appointed Shoura members is to express their opinion regardless of any advice they might receive. In other words, they have to be decision makers and great thinkers to change the future."
Mona S. Al-Munajjed, a sociologist, author and adviser on social and gender issues, praised the new appointments, saying that it is a very important move toward activating the role of Saudi women in society.
"It is a very positive and constructive step in which King Abdullah is working on boosting and activating women's role in the social and political life of the Kingdom. As women constitute 50 percent of society, additional fields like education, social and health should be opened to them. It is important to include Saudi women members on the Shoura Council who are specialized in the field of civil society, the sciences, environment, technology, industry, ICT, entrepreneurship and business," she said.
According to Al-Munajjed, the choices are really excellent as women Shoura members will be a driving force in society.
Naelah Attar, founder and CEO of ECO consultancy and vice president and partner at Dar Alhuda Co., confirmed that women contributing to the Shoura is an excellent step, but more members from several backgrounds are needed.
"I found out that most of the announced names are qualified enough to represent Saudi society in the Shoura, but what I really need is involving women from several fields rather than just the education, health and social arenas. For example, most of the names come from academic fields at King Saud University. I prefer that we have names from economic fields, as well," she said.
Haifa Reda Jamal Al-Lail, dean of Effat University, said that such a step is considered a culmination of the king’s efforts to boost the role of women in Saudi society.
“Two employees of Effat University have been hired for the Shoura Council. This shows the king’s vision for developing education and activating the role of women in society,” she said.
“More fields should be opened up for women in addition to health, education and social affairs. I think the number of women that have been appointed now is suitable for the current changes. In the future, we might have a bigger number of chairs in the Shoura Council. The king’s strategy is one of gradual growth toward development.”