MAKKAH: Saudi women have made significant contributions in the fields of economic and social development in the Kingdom, affirmed Dr. Abrar Abdulmannan Bar, head of the knowledge department at the Salam Project for Cultural Communication and expert in women’s empowerment.
This was achieved by providing women with the skills needed to assume leadership positions, she said.
Bar, who also works as a visiting junior assistant professor at Tokai University in Japan, said that “women’s empowerment is a global concern and an integral part of the development plans around the world.”
Studies show that empowering women in the member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development can boost these countries’ gross domestic product by a total of $6 trillion, Bar explained.
In just five years following the announcement of the Kingdom’s Vision in 2016, over 293,000 women entered the labor market.
“We now see Saudi female ambassadors, deputy ministers and other motivational models for Saudi women,” she said.
Women’s economic participation increased from 19.3 percent in 2016 to 33.2 percent by the end of 2020, according to the General Authority for Statistics, while unemployment decreased from 34.5 percent in 2016 to 24.4 percent in 2020.
Women’s participation in the labor market increased from 25.9 percent to 33.6 percent between 2020 and 2021, exceeding the targets set in Vision 2030.
We now see Saudi female ambassadors, deputy ministers and other motivational models for Saudi women.
Dr. Abrar Abdulmannan Bar
Bar revealed that the average annual income of Saudi women reached SR111.6 billion ($29.6 billion).
The benefits of empowering women extend to the whole of society, Bar said. The more women are empowered, the more “they will be able to educate their children and elevate their families and communities in general.”
Work-life balance should also involve men, she said, and the domestic sphere should not be limited to women only.
“There should be a culture of ongoing support in order to achieve this balance and attain professional, managerial, personal and familial achievements. It’s normal to face some obstacles and challenges along the way,” Bar said.
There are many programs, including but not limited to the Women Leaders 2030 Mentoring and Leadership Training Initiative for Female Cadres, one of the initiatives launched by the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, in collaboration with the long-established French business school, INSEAD.
The initiative aims to equip Saudi women with leadership skills that will give them a competitive edge both in the Saudi work environment and internationally.
Another program is the Young Leadership Qualification Program for Global Communication provided by the Salam Project for Cultural Communication, which promotes interreligious and intercultural dialogue.
Bar said that 50 percent of the participants were Saudi women, and over 250 Saudi male and female youths were trained in this program.
This was achieved in parallel with the launching of the Leadership Program, one of the initiatives of the Women’s Leadership Center at the Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University.
The program, carried out in collaboration with local and international experts, trains young Saudi women for leadership positions.