Time: September 23, 2018
Sunday’s 88th National Day was a perfect opportunity to reflect on the last year and how it has brought about many inspiring achievements by Saudi women across the Kingdom, which have also been witnessed around the world. There is much to be said as to the underrepresentation of Saudi women by the international community. Despite constant criticism painting a tarnished image of their ability to participate in society, Saudi women have taken steps that prove their empowerment, skillful abilities and positive contributions to Saudi Arabia and the world.
It is thus of the utmost importance that we recognize the historic accomplishments that Saudi women have achieved. While international attention has been drawn to women’s participation in society in Saudi Arabia, it is our duty as proud Saudi citizens to acknowledge their achievements, therefore encouraging future generations of women to fulfill their potential.
As part of Saudi Vision 2030, ambitious efforts are underway to increase women’s employment from its current rate of 22 percent to 30 percent by 2030. As a result of social and economic reform, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development reported earlier this year that women’s employment has already risen by 140 percent over the last four years — a clear sign that the female half of the country is now more engaged in the economy than ever.
Even though these numbers are encouraging, it should be obvious that we have yet to see the full potential of Saudi women. Industries such as engineering, financial technology (fintech), commercial services, and even government policy continue to present budding opportunities for Saudi women to contribute their talents and excel.
Inspiring Saudi women have elevated the ceiling of achievement over the last year and empowered others to pursue their dreams. Mishaal Ashemimry, an aerospace engineer and CEO of her own company, MISHAAL Aerospace, last year became the first Saudi woman to join NASA, fulling her dreams of working in the aerospace industry.
The Saudi National Day is a reminder for us to cherish the achievements Saudi women have accomplished, as well as look forward to what the future holds. Most importantly, we are just getting started.Reem Daffa
• Reem Daffa is vice president and executive director of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC).