"The Kingdom has embarked on an unprecedented reform journey to empower women and support their participation in national development” - from the speech of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, delivered at the end of the W20, the G20 women’s engagement group.
This speech, delivered by the Minister of Commerce and Investment Dr Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi on behalf of King Salman, reiterated the principles, values, and approach of the Kingdom since its foundation by the late King Abdulaziz. The essence of this approach is summed in the power of people to build and advance their nations.
This approach started with the "Bedouin Settlement" project and flourished with the 2030 vision which further affirmed the value of human capital as the true wealth of this country. King Salman’s speech thus serves as a fresh reminder of the country’s inherent approach, and of its deeply rooted values of humanity and justice that persist in the face of pandemics and other unforeseen circumstances.
Furthermore, ensuring equity and equality between the two partners forming the country’s human capital, i.e. men and women, is of the utmost importance according to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The faith of Saudi leaders in the role of Saudi women as equal partners in decision-making and societal progress has also stemmed from the era of the Kingdom’s founder. The late monarch’s vision and legacy inspired establishing an education system for girls, and providing them with solid opportunities to pursue postgrduate studies, get jobs, and advance in their careers just like their male peers.
Women’s effective presence has been growing throughout Saudi history thanks to various social, scientific, and cultural development initiatives. For their part, Saudi women have proven their ability and competence to undertake key roles in the growth and success of these initiatives.
These contributions have continued to the present era under the reign of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In fact, Saudi women have taken massive leaps to reach high-profile positions, at home and abroad, thanks to their abilities and competences.
The Kingdom’s principles have been demonstrated by empowering women, nationally and internationally, to showcase their potential and prove their competence.
This further confirms King Salman’s belief expressed in his speech, “Women are the main source of development for any society. Hence, without empowered women, it is almost impossible to implement any societal reforms. Women form half of society and take up the crucial role of educating new generations . Throughout history, women have proven their prominent and effective role in driving change and making decisions ”.
To empower women is not to merely acknowledge their existence, but to also pursue societal reform. Truly empowered women are independent and equal partners in building a progressive and balanced society.
Women empowerment initiatives in the Saudi labor market were not the only example of the government’s support under the leadership of King Salman bin Abdulaziz. This empoweremend came hand in hand with other human rights and legislative changes that guarantee women’s independence and dignity, and facilitate the exercise of their various functional roles in all developmental areas.
Driven by its belief in gender equality in competence and production capacity, the Kingdom sought to expand the labor market to give women equal job opportunities on par with their male peers. Women were thus offered the opportunity to create long-term production projects to support their roles as active contributors to local economies.
The government also offered women numerous training programs to develop their job skills in line with the latest demands of the job market.
The King’s speech also commended women’s crucial role on the frontlines of fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic as they represent over 70 percent of the healthcare workforce.
The Kingdom has faith, and this faith is confirmed by the words of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. Development projects cannot be completed and achieve their goals without women’s vital and participatory presence, especially in light of the current global health crisis. In fact, women have been particulary affected by the pandemic, and this means that recovery economic programs will be doomed to failure unless they include women as equal partners to men. This implies providing women with equal opportunities to participate in development programs. King Salman also conveyed the message that “Saudi Arabia is strongly convinced that a sound economic recovery to overcome the pandemic’s negative reprecussions can only be achieved through inclusive economic and social programs that achieve gender equity and create new opportunities for success”.
Today, Saudi women are witnessing an exceptional era under the wise leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques who believes that women are the main source of social reform and development, and have a prominent and effective role in driving change and making decisions. A bright future awaits Saudi women thanks to a leadership that believes that human capital is the true wealth of any nation, and that justice and equality are the cornerstone values of this great country and its exceptional people.
"We are proud of Saudi Arabia."
This article was originally published in and translated from Al-Jazira.