Saudi Princess Al-Bandari: A lifetime dedicated to philanthropy, women’s rights
Saudi Arabia’s Princess Al-Bandari bint Abdulrahman bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz al Saud, a pioneer of philanthropy and social work, and a frequent contributor to a number of charities and non-profit organizations, has died on Friday, Saudi Arabia’s Royal Court announced.
She was the CEO of the King Khalid Foundation (KKF), the co-founder of the Shaghaf program, and a member of the Al-Nahda Philanthropic Society for Women.
“Princess Al-Bandari was a pioneer in many aspects. Whether it was through the foundation or by partnering with other organizations, her goal was always to protect those that needed protection,” Princess Al-Bandari’s cousin, Prince Talal bin Mohammed al Abdullah al Faisal al Saud, told Al Arabiya English.
As the CEO of the King Khalid Foundation, she provided innovative solutions to critical social and economic challenges in the Kingdom.
The foundation’s most prominent program has been the ‘No More Abuse’ initiative, the first anti-domestic abuse campaign in Saudi Arabia that aimed to raise awareness and protect women against violence.
The campaign, launched in 2013 by the foundation in collaboration with Memac Ogilvy in Riyadh, was only meant to spark a debate locally, and was covered by local newspapers and the KKF’s social media pages. However, it quickly grabbed international attention.
The controversial campaign featured a full-page image of a burqa-clad woman with a blackened and bloodshot eye displayed on local newspapers with numbers of abuse hotlines victims could contact. “Some things can’t be covered. Fighting abuse together,” the campaign’s slogan read.
“She wasn’t afraid to talk about issues that needed to be talked about no matter how taboo they were. She started the conversation on domestic abuse years ago when no one else was talking about it in the Kingdom,” Prince Talal said.
In 2013, the KKF submitted a draft law on “Women and Child Abuse Prevention Law”, which the Saudi Arabian government adopted and passed.
Under the 17-article bill, those found guilty of committing psychological or physical abuse could face prison sentences of up to one year and up to 50,000 riyals ($13,300) in fines.
Through the foundation, Princess Al-Bandari also contributed to research aimed at helping elevate people below the poverty line in the Kingdom.
“She launched programs to help bring people out of poverty and ensure that they don’t fall below that level again,” Prince Talal added.
In 2016, Princess Al-Bandari’s foundation teamed up with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to launch “Shaghaf,” a fellowship program that enrolls 11 young Saudis annually in a summer course at Columbia University in New York, and provides them with internship opportunities at the Gates Foundation.
She has also participated in numerous conferences and forums both regionally and internationally to discuss the importance of philanthropy.
Princess Al-Bandari was also a member of the Al-Nahda Philanthropic Society for Women in Riyadh.
“She did whatever she could to help people, and she did so diligently,” Prince Talal said.
Princess Al-Bandari received her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the King Saud University in Riyadh, and obtained her Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.