By Talat Jalali
Women Empowerment is a process to make the women financially independent, educated and progressive, enjoying a good social status. Women since ages have been struggling to be socially and professionally recognized as equivalent to men, even though they constitute almost half of the population in the world.
Women empowerment will take a prominent role in highlighting the Kingdom’s vision 2030 and the Crown Prince HRH Mohammed bin Salman’s grand vision behind Vision 2030 is to transform the Saudi economy from one of oil dependence to a post-oil economy which aims to reestablish Saudi as a more modern, tourist-friendly destination. Over the last year, under Crown Prince HRH Mohammed bin Salman’s leadership, many formulating strategies and initiating processes started especially addressing the youth and the role of the women in Saudi Arabia have been launched.
These have been critical in creating a transformational societal change to the role of women which have been brought about by the government policies and initiatives aimed at empowering them. Some of the most remarkable of these have been permitting women to work, with many public sector jobs now targeted at women, providing funding for women to be educated in foreign universities; employment of women within the military has been opened up.
One of the most historic decisions announced in September 2017, in which decades-old driving ban on women was lifted. Saudi Arabia issued the first licenses to women in June 2018.The first women to drive in Saudi Arabia have spoken of their relief at being self-reliant. They referenced the anti-harassment law that accompanied the lifting of the ban, crediting it with creating a safe atmosphere for the new women drivers.
Saudi women and their empowerment is vital in Saudi Arabia’s National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020. Saudi women have recently been appointed to leadership positions, especially in the financial sector. These include Lubna Al-Olayan, chairwoman of the merged Saudi British Bank with Alawwal Bank; Sarah Al-Suhaimi, chairwoman of Tadawul; and Rania Nashar, CEO of Samba Financial Group.
Some noted among the initiatives of the Kingdom include; the “Qurra” program that was launched to support childcare services for working women, and the “Wusul” program to support the transfer of working women. The ministry of Labor and Social Development also launched the “Support for Self-Employment” program, that enables women to earn according to their skills, and the “Part-time” and “Remote Working” programs that enable women to strike a balance between work and taking care of the family.
Crown Prince HRH Mohammed bin Salman’s overall challenge is to turn the population, into a society which is based on the skills, talent and hard work. Empowerment of women in society is seen to be an important part in achieving the goals of Vision 2030. As the country moves toward achieving Vision 2030, women continue to seek higher education and learn new skills; they are being more conscious about their health, education, career, job and responsibilities towards family, society and country, taking part and showing great interest in each field. Society must also take initiative to create a climate in which women have full opportunities participating in every field of life.