Women 2030 platform launches in the voice and honor of Saudi women
On March 8, the launch of Women2030.com coincided with International Women’s Day; an occasion that pushes both local and global communities to reexamine and reflect on the progress made on gender equality and women’s empowerment. This year, it is a cause for celebration. Saudi Arabia has undertaken enormous reforms on women’s rights and roles in 2017. No time is more opportune for the world to read and learn about Saudi women’s past, present, and future.
Under an umbrella media initiative, Women 2030 is a digital platform – both in English and in Arabic – designed to recollect, collect and publish Saudi women's national and global achievements. Its focus will be on highlighting Saudi women’s developments, achievements and presence across fields and markets.
The launch of the website is supported by HRH Crown Prince Salman’s Saudi Vision 2030, which has set ambitious and strict targets for the empowerment of women; 2030 is also a milestone year for women worldwide, by which the United Nations aims to have achieved its 50-50 agenda for full gender equality, and primacy for female leadership across the board.
As such, Women2030.com celebrates outstanding Saudi women, conveys their voices to the world and documents their achievements across the globe. It is also a platform to highlight unprecedented efforts by Saudi leadership to elevate women’s status and socioeconomic roles, as it manages the balancing act between conservatism and liberalism.
The launch of this platform also coincides with the many positive, first-time developments in the Saudi society and community that have been lauded by international observers and communities – especially with regards to reforms on Saudi women’s rights.
Saudi’s power women
On International Women’s Day, the Saudi society is celebrating its power and leading women in the various fields of science, arts and business. It is also committing to their greater involvement in high-level decision-making, and equally, greater freedom of action.
What seemed impossible in the past became reality today. Saudi women, armed with ambition, academic, and exceptional competence, are breaking the glass ceiling. Their mobility, materializing in the royal decree issued last year to lift the driving ban on them, is a boon for their socioeconomic contribution, and a move that was overwhelmingly supported by local and international communities.
Other reforms are following, including permissions for women to enter sports stadiums, and to attend family-oriented concerts that have long been reserved for male goers.
Last year saw the participation of Saudi women in top-ranked decision-making positions. One example has been the appointment of Fatimah Baeshen as the spokeswoman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington. Another has been the appointment of Nashwa Taher to the role of Honorary Consul to the Netherlands – making her one of the most prominent figures in Saudi Arabia’s economic and diplomatic circles. Moreover, businesswoman Princess Rima bint Bandar Al Saud was appointed as president of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports. She was the first Saudi woman to take on such a post.
This, in addition to the appointment of 30 women to the current Shura Council (Consultative assembly of Saudi Arabia). Women now represent 20% of the council’s members. Two Saudi women became Deputy Ministers, and many are voicing their expectations – and hopes – for Saudi’s first female minister.
In business, Saudi women have proven exceptionally competitive and competent vis-à-vis their male counterparts. Airline companies were the first to promote their employment across operational and administrative posts, with the first-time appointment of a woman to the post of Air Traffic Control.
Women also constitute the largest percentage of the entertainment industry. They have proven themselves strong in the hospitality, hotel and security fields. They joined Saudi Prosecution for the first time as Lieutenant Colonels, and now work across military posts in prisons, national security and border guards. They climbed up the ranks from soldier to first soldier, and from sergeant to sergeant agent – the highest rank reached by Saudi women. They are now aspiring to the officer ranks.
Under its Vision 2030, which aims to raise women’s workforce contribution from 20 to 30 percent, the Kingdom has outlined a solid plan for a feminization rollout across economic sectors. This means banning male employment from sectors altogether, particularly those tailoring to female products and services – these sectors currently stand at 33%. More significantly, women were recently allowed to set up their own businesses without the previously compulsory consent of their guardian.
In the field of science, Saudi women have left their footprint with a number of discoveries and innovations, led by scientist Ghada Al-Mutairi, who revolutionized the field of surgery. Al-Mutairi was behind the discovery that the use of a certain metal enabled light rays to enter the human body through chips called photons without the need for a surgery. She was recognized with several awards for this discovery.
Scientist Najla Al-Radadi obtained two patents in the treatment of cancer tumors last year, while scientist Hayat Cindy deciphered the diabetes genetic code in a remarkable discovery in 2013. It was called Mars. As small as a mail stamp, it helped scientists and doctors understand the chemistry of the human body through disease-detecting sensors.
Physicist Maha Mohammed Khayat patented four inventions in nanotechnology associated with solar cells, three of which were registered in the United States. They are expected to greatly contribute to global efforts toward reducing oil consumption and dependency.
In sports, Saudi women strongly represented their home country both on local and global stages. They won five silver and bronze medals in Karate and fencing competitions at the fourth edition of the Arab Women Sports Tournament, which took place in Sharjah, Emirates, in February 2018.
Within a few months of the formation of Saudi Arabia’s first women’s chess team, the latter landed several local and international awards in chess competitions.
In the male-dominated sports field, Saudi women quickly excelled, despite a challenging environment for their athletic growth – particularly when it came to public sports facilities and physical education at schools. Among them is Saudi champion Dana Al-Ghamdi who recently won the 2018 International Boxing Championships in Jordan, competing amongst several Arab and foreign countries.
With these successes rose women sports entrepreneurs; boxing and martial arts games champion, Hala Alhamrani, established the first Saudi women's boxing center in Jeddah.
In the arts space, Saudi’s female filmmakers works, voicing and portraying the realities and challenges of Saudi women and the community around them, were showcased and recognized at regional and international festivals.
With the promise of cinema licensing in Saudi Arabia as of March 2018, these works will finally be accessible to their local public.
Haifaa Al-Mansour, the director behind acclaimed Saudi drama Wadjda, is amongst the most prominent film directors in Saudi Arabia. Her film was nominated for an Oscar in 2013. More importantly, it shed the light on Saudi women’s issues. In 2012, Variety entertainment magazine chose her as one of the most influential women in the world. She has since won several other awards.
Filmmakers Diaa Yousef and Hind Al Fahad won the INJAZ Program Award at the Dubai Film Market to support and fund their films Weld Sidra and Sharshaf.
Saudi actress Aahd Al-Kamel became an international star after co-starring in the short drama Collateral, launched in early February this year, which portrayed the reality of Arab refugees. Al-Kamel has received several awards for her work, including a Gold at the Beirut International Film Festival in 2012 for her first short film, Al-Qandargi.
And for the first time in 50 years, Saudi actress Najat Muftah, who starred in the play Life of an Emperor, became the first Saudi actress in a play open to a mixed audience last February in Riyadh – perhaps one of the most notable signs of Saudi Arabia’s growing cultural openness.
In the field of literature, Saudi writers published dozens of works aiming right at cultural taboos. They talked about love, sex and homosexuality. They criticized customs, traditions and restrictions that hindered women. Their writings went viral and were translated into many languages. Among Saudi writers that pushed the envelope were Zeinab Hefni, Raja Al-Sanea, and Samar Al-Muqrin.
Saudi women continue to inspire and demonstrate their unlimited strength and ability to constantly reach new heights. Through Women2030.com, we will accompany them as they enter their next stage of growth. And so will the world.