Saudi women making great strides in education, employment, health: GASTAT

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Saudi women have made significant strides in employment, education, health, technology, and art, according to the latest report by the Kingdom’s General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT).

In the Saudi Women’s Report 2022, issued on Wednesday, the GASTAT collected data from surveys carried out across Saudi Arabia of women aged 15 and above.

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The Kingdom has placed the empowerment of women – through labor force participation, education, and improved quality of life – at the forefront of its Vision 2030 economic reform plan.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has repeatedly said that “empowering women and youth remain two key pillars to achieving sustainable growth.”

In a speech during Saudi Arabia G20 Presidency in 2020, King Salman bin Abdulaziz said: “Women are a main source of development for any society. Hence, without empowered women, it is almost impossible to implement any societal reforms. Throughout history, women have proven their prominent and effective role in driving change and decision-making.”

Women’s employment

One of Saudi Arabia’s main Vision 2030 goals was increasing women’s participation in the labor force market.

In recent years, Saudi women have been provided with opportunities to engage in various public and private sectors, including law and the military industry, which were previously dominated by men.

A Saudi woman works inside the first all-female call centre in the kingdom's security sector, in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 29, 2017. (File photo: Reuters)
A Saudi woman works inside the first all-female call centre in the kingdom's security sector, in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 29, 2017. (File photo: Reuters)

New jobs were also created to give women leading roles in the General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque as assistant president, female undersecretaries to the president, and assistant undersecretaries in various developmental disciplines.

According to the report, the unemployment rate among Saudi women dropped, especially in the fourth quarter of 2022, compared to the previous years.

The unemployment rate among Saudi women now stands at 15.4 percent.

The ratio of employed Saudi women to the population rose to 30.4 percent in 2022, compared to 27.6 percent in 2021.

Meanwhile, the report said women’s participation in the labor market was 36 percent in Q4 of 2022, up slightly from 35.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021.

The GASTAT report also noted that the number of Saudi women in the private sector is higher than those working in the public sector – a result of more employment opportunities opening up in various fields over the years.

Education

Education is an essential part of Vision 2030’s goal of empowering women and encouraging their participation in the labor market, according to GASTAT.

Saudi women make up 49.99 percent of the total number of higher education students, including Bachelor, Master, and PhD degrees.

Saudi women apply for a job during Glowork Career Fair 2017 for Saudi women employments held at a hotel in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on September 28, 2017. (File photo: AFP)
Saudi women apply for a job during Glowork Career Fair 2017 for Saudi women employments held at a hotel in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on September 28, 2017. (File photo: AFP)

GASTAT reported that female graduates were listed across all disciplines in higher education. Business, management, and law had the highest number of female graduates, according to the report, followed by arts and humanities.

Female instructors at the Ministry of Education also make up 51.8 percent of the total number of instructors.

Health and sports

Women’s health is a crucial and basic pillar of the country’s overall wellbeing, according to GASTAT.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has seen an increased interest in both physical health and sports.

Mass participation in sports by both men and women rose from 13 percent in 2015 to almost 50 percent in 2022, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) had previously reported.

The Kingdom has placed significant importance on women’s health by including physical education classes in the public education programs at schools, providing job opportunities in several sports fields – including joining football teams, and allowing women to enter sports stadiums to attend various sports activities.

Saudi Arabia’s national women’s football team after winning their first-ever international match beating the Seychelles on February 20, 2022. (File photo: Twitter)
Saudi Arabia’s national women’s football team after winning their first-ever international match beating the Seychelles on February 20, 2022. (File photo: Twitter)

A women’s motorcycle driving training program was even launched in Dammam for the first time in the Kingdom’s history.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) also announced earlier this week the establishment of a female-centered health and wellbeing company with Princess Reema bint Bandar as its head.

The Kayanee Company will focus on women’s health and the lifestyle of future generations of young women through six offerings that include fitness, apparel, personal care and treatments, nutrition and diagnostics, healthy eating, and learning.

According to the GASTAT report, young women aged 15 years and above engaged in physical activity for at least 30 minutes per week, reaching 38.7 percent in 2021, the highest percentage compared to 2019 and 2020.

The highest age group of women engaged in physical activity for at least 30 minutes a week is the age group 20–24 with 43.13 percent, followed by the age group 25-29 with 42.88 percent.

Under Vision 2030, the Kingdom aims to promote exercise and fitness to improve the public’s quality of life.

GASTAT

GASTAT is the only official reference for statistical data and information in Saudi Arabia.

The authority carries out all statistical work, as well as the technical oversight of the statistical sector, and designs and implements field surveys, conducts statistical studies and research, analyzes data and information, and documents and archives all works containing information and statistical data on all aspects of life in Saudi Arabia.

It gathers, classifies and analyzes data, and extracts indicators from it.

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