Saudi women pave paths to power

Samar Fatany
Samar Fatany
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Saudi Arabia’s Effat University organized a memorable event in which the daughters and granddaughters of the late King Faisal and his wife the late Queen Effat Al-Thunayyan, celebrated Princess Sara Al-Faisal’s national award at the Hilton Gala Hall for her philanthropic and dedicated services to her community as the president of Al-Nahda Society. Effat University also celebrated the historic appointment of Princess Sara and 29 other women as members of the Shura Council. Some of these women also joined the celebrations which marked the end of an era of discrimination against women and acknowledged the attempt to promote their integration into the political and decision making process.

The appointment of 30 well-qualified women with distinguished credentials to become official members of the Shura Council will hopefully allow women to stand up for their rights and effectively address policies on public matters and civil and business affairs that need urgent attention to help our nation prosper and develop.

The presence of women on the Shura Council will help professional women to correct the status of women in Saudi society and will influence change and accelerate much needed social, economic and political reforms, raising public awareness and increasing civic responsibility. The progressive professionals on the Shura Council will support King Abdullah’s reform movement and affect change in Saudi Arabia.

The appointment of 30 well-qualified women with distinguished credentials to become official members of the Shura Council will hopefully allow women to stand up for their rights and effectively address policies on public matters and civil and business affairs.

Samar Fatany

In their brief speeches to the distinguished guests and graduates of Dar Al-Hanan School and Effat University, the two accomplished sisters Princess Sara, president of Al-Nahda Society, and Princess Lulwa, president of Effat University, both acknowledged the role of their late mother Queen Effat Al-Thunayyan who founded Effat College (now Effat University) the first private college for women in August of 1999, a few months before she died. The college became a university in 2009. In 1966, Queen Effat also founded Dar Al-Hanan School in Jeddah, the first private school for girls in Saudi Arabia. Dr. Haifa Reda Jamal Al-Lail, Dean of Effat University, in her welcoming speech congratulated Princess Sara on her distinguished award and highlighted the role of Queen Effat in developing education and activating the role of women in society.

The gathering celebrated Effat University’s achievements in many fields to help women graduates meet the challenges of the modern world. Investing in education for women has been a priority in Saudi Arabia’s educational reforms. The young and talented graduates of Effat are qualified today to join large national and international businesses and to contribute effectively in government departments. Effat University for women has become an instrumental force that facilitates the integration of more qualified women into the workforce, which is the key to the nation’s progress and development.

Effat University has succeeded in producing highly qualified women in various fields that include business administration, psychology, architecture and engineering. The classes are taught in English and as a result the young women graduates are all fluent in English and and have the required skills to qualify them for the job market. Many of the graduates of Dar Al-Hanan and Effat University who came to join in the celebrations are accomplished women who have taken on leadership roles in society.

Effat University has academic partnerships with reputable American institutions, such as the School of Architecture of the University of Miami, the School of Cinematic Arts of the University of Southern California, and the College of Education of the University of Cincinnati, as well as Duke, Georgetown, Syracuse and Carnegie Mellon universities and Mount Holyoke and Wilson colleges. It has also partnered with KAUST, Paris Malaquais, Tokai University in Japan, the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, the American University of Cairo and the Pratt School of Engineering.

Effat University also offers independent courses in creative writing, math, stock market analysis, and business negotiation and strategic planning, as well as a two-year diploma as a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). The Community Services Institute at Effat University offers continuing education to provide the community with diverse international standards and academic and non-academic skills in different fields of specialization. The Center for Foreign Languages offers a French Language and Civilization Diploma in collaboration with the Cours de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne (CCFS) in Paris and with the support of the Consulate General of France in Jeddah. Effat also provides training for local and international examinations such as SAT, TOEFL iBT, GRE, GMAT, IGCSE, and IELTS.

New era of recognition

The Department of Student Affairs includes the Active Youth Club in which students are encouraged to be active members of society, and the At’aa Club that teaches students the art of giving and charity work.

Effective citizenship is very much encouraged and the University has a yearly award which recognizes outstanding students of academic and personal merit.

Who could have imagined that Dar Al-Hanan School would pave the way for the foundation of a world-class university and that its students would one day play key roles in the development of this nation? The daughters of Queen Effat have every reason to celebrate the success of the academic institutions that were founded by their mother who encouraged the education of women in Saudi Arabia.

Educated Saudi women today celebrate a new era of recognition and they are paving the way for progress. Princess Sara and the other women members of the Shoura Council will hopefully be instrumental in changing the mindset of people and educating those who are influenced by rigid customs that stand in the way of empowering women and creating a harmonious environment for the modern Saudi family today.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on May 5, 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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