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Saudi Women Win Big in “National Transformation” | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A woman gestures as she leaves a polling station after casting her vote during municipal elections, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 12, 2015. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Jeddah-The Saudi society is changing and Saudi women have received a remarkable share in the development plan set for the country.

Sixty years ago, women’s education was controversial. However, with the political support to women, they have succeeded in breaking the social constraints and marked a respectful position alongside men.

In Saudi Arabia, women affairs have always been tackled by the state that leads women’s progress and takes related decisions regardless of social discussions and traditional views.

For years, Saudi women were only allowed to work in education. Yet, many political decisions have been taken with the aim of offering women the chances to participate in political and social domains.

Saudi Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Programme have raised women’s participation in the labor market from 22% to 30%, considering women, who make 50% of the total universities’ graduates, an important factor in the country. The leadership supports women in developing their talents, and investing their powers by offering them the suitable chances to contribute to the economic and social advancement, and by increasing their participation in the governmental ministries to 42%.

During his interview with Bloomberg, HH Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, second deputy prime minister, and minister of defense has emphasized the feminine role, saying that the Kingdom can’t prosper while it marginalizes the rights of half of its community, and called for more freedoms for women.

Dr. Somaya Al-Safi, professor of sociology saw that the governmental policies encourage more women to work, as Saudi Arabia has invested billions in promoting education systems and in funding projects that combat women’s unemployment.

It is worth mentioning that the role of Saudi women has remarkably evolved during the few past years. Many of the governmental entities focused on the presence of women, like the Consultative Assembly that appointed 30 women in 2013. Women also participated in the election of commercial chambers and municipalities.

Observers see that these developments reflect a social transformation that will directly affect the Saudi political scene. The government is seeking to draw new directions in the field of women rights, and has recently extracted family cards for divorced and widowed women, so they can benefit from different services and provide their children with their needs according to the new national vision.