A new era of empowerment for Saudi women

Samar Fatany
Samar Fatany
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King Abdul Aziz Highest National Award was presented to Princess Sara Al-Faisal the head of Al-Nahda Philanthropic Society for Women during its 50th anniversary celebration. The event was held under the aegis of Crown Prince Salman, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, on Sunday, April 14, at Al-Niyara Hall in Riyadh. Prince Muqrin, Second Deputy Prime Minister, on behalf of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah presented her the award and read out a letter of appreciation in which the king congratulated the princess on her services to the community and praised her 50 years of dedication and hard work. The princess thanked the king and promised to continue her service to the community and her country. She was very emotional and asked to dedicate the award to her mother, Queen Effat who founded Al-Nahda Society in the year 1962.

The award that was granted to Princess Sara Al-Faisal is a very significant move that should inspire many others who work in the field of charity. Moreover, the Al-Nahda celebration, which gathered over 500 members and guests, was also significant because it highlighted the role of active women who continue to voluntarily contribute to empower other women in Saudi society. The gathering was a success story of dedicated women geared towards building a new modern society at par with the more advanced societies in the world.

The policy of supporting NGOs within Saudi Arabia and projecting the role of women who contribute in such organizations is a step in the right direction.

Princess Sara is indeed supported by a dedicated team of professional, talented and devoted women who work in silence to serve the needy and empower women to live a life of dignity and become contributing citizens with better qualifications and hope for a more prosperous future. What is unique about progressive Saudi women today is the fact that they are proud of their heritage and are keen to preserve their identity as Arab Muslim women who can modernize and excel to serve their community.

Al-Nahda celebration was a great opportunity to celebrate 50 years of service and the talents of many of its qualified and dedicated members. Sheikha Al-Sudairi and Salma Al-Rashid, the two presenters of the gala event did a wonderful job of highlighting the rich history of Al-Nahda and its role in the service of the community. They portrayed an image of a new breed of young progressive Saudi women with style and confidence. They added glamor and life to the special evening with their sophisticated Hollywood style of eloquence, outlining the significant role of Al-Nahda and the commitment of distinguished women who contributed in the many cultural, social and welfare projects that have been initiated to support the empowerment of women and serving the underprivileged women in Saudi society.

Hiba Al-Bakri the event manager was another example of the young sophisticated Saudi woman who is talented and creative. She was able to efficiently set up an amazing Gala event that was full of elegance and professional style.

Another impressive segment of the celebration was the well-produced documentary featuring the various educational, training, career and employment programs, as well as mental health projects of Al-Nahda Society. The film projected the remarkable role of the women behind these projects. Ibtisam Al-Dukhi head of the Mother and Child Education program has played a leading role in raising awareness among women and teaching them about early childcare and proper ways of care for their infants. Manal Al-Sadrany head of the Training and Development program has been instrumental in enhancing the professional skills of women to help them find better jobs in a very competitive market. Dania Al-Maeena head of the College and Career Counseling program, “Mustaqbali”, has played an inspirational role, she has encouraged many daughters of underprivileged mothers to pursue college education and continues to inspire others to develop their capacity through motivational and guidance programs that can empower them to obtain higher degrees to lead a better life. Ghada Al-Arifi head of “Cella”, a network of professional women, creates opportunities for women to network and share experiences to support their professional careers. Salma Al-Rashid head of, “Qudra”, a program that promotes the concept of volunteerism, strives to provide the proper skills that can enable women to serve society as more capable and efficient volunteers. Nida Al-Olayan head of the Financial and Social Support group program, works on providing basic physiological needs that can provide women with a sense of security and basic needs to lead a life of dignity and comfort. Sheikha Al-Sudairi head of the Employment program, reaches out to companies and government departments to provide job opportunities for women in the city of Riyadh. She also manages “tawdeef.com”, an online base for employment vacancies. The short film captured the spirit of giving and care of the noble charity work that is conducted with love and dedication by these highly qualified and capable women.

King Abdullah’s award to Princess Sara Al-Faisal and his previous awards to other leading women distinguish his rule that has ushered in a new era of empowerment for Saudi women.

Moreover, the emergence of a new breed of young and progressive talented women is a an indication that King Abdullah’s policies of modernizing Saudi Arabia have succeeded in empowering women to contribute towards building a more prosperous and advanced country. It is also an indication that when women are given a chance they can be effective contributors to the nation’s progress.

Celebrating NGOs

The recognition of the princess, who is a loved and respected personality in her community and whose humble and philanthropic role has touched the lives of many needy women and their families in Riyadh, has been very well received by many women in the field of charity work that needs more support and recognition in our country. Charity organizations and other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) can have a stronger impact than governmental institutions in contributing to the well being of society. NGO volunteers can be more efficient because they are not subject to bureaucratic procedures. There have been many instances that have proven that NGOs are more productive than government organizations

because of their commitment and dedication. There are many NGOs that have changed the world. One example is the Green Peace that started as a small voluntary group and today it is a worldwide organization that has helped the environment and changed international policies to serve humanity.

The policy of supporting NGOs within Saudi Arabia and projecting the role of women who contribute in such organizations is a step in the right direction.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on April 20, 2013.

Samar Fatany is a Chief Broadcaster in the English section at Jeddah Broadcasting Station. Over the past 28 years, she has introduced many news, cultural, and religious programs and has conducted several interviews with official delegations and prominent political personalities visiting the kingdom. Fatany has made significant contributions in the fields of public relations and social awareness in Saudi Arabia and has been involved in activities aiming at fighting extremism and enhancing women’s role in serving society. She has published three books: “Saudi Perceptions & Western Misconceptions,” “Saudi Women towards a new era” and “Saudi Challenges & Reforms.”

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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