Thrust on women empowerment

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Time: May 31, 2018

THE Kingdom’s National Transformation Program 2020 consists of 36 strategic goals supporting economic empowerment and self-reliance of Saudi women in addition to raising the women’s contribution in the labor market from 22 percent to 30 percent by 2030, Minister of Labor and Social Development Ali Al-Ghafis said on Thursday.

“This would contribute to an increase of three percent in gross domestic product (GDP) from non-oil sectors,” the minister said while addressing the plenary session of 107th International Labor Conference in Geneva.

The conference, with the theme of “Women at Work”, is being convened to tackle problems and issues that stand in the way of women from playing an active role in the development of society.

The minister affirmed that the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 is based on three main pillars: vibrant society, thriving economy and ambitious nation. “The Vision stipulates that Saudi woman is one of the key components of our strength. We would continue focusing on developing talents of women and pool their energies so as to empower them to achieve suitable opportunities to build their future as well as to contribute to the development of our society and economy,” he said.

While stressing the Kingdom’s keenness on supporting women’s role in the labor market and overcome obstacles, Al-Ghafis said that the Kingdom has launched several initiatives in this regard.

“We have set certain goals to achieve this by increasing women’s participation in the labor market, increasing the contribution of productive families, facilitating business practices, developing the retail sector and increasing the contribution of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The emphasis has been put on enabling women to strike a balance between social life and work through a system of social welfare services, which provided women with greater opportunities without disrupting the family system and their association with the family members.

Al-Ghafis said the Saudi support programs have driven more Saudi women to take up jobs in the local market and enabled them to achieve their economic empowerment across the Kingdom. The ministry introduced initiatives such as Program to boost Saudization at firms, Freelance Program, Part-time Job Program, working women’s ‘Children Hospitality Program’ called ‘Qurrat’, and Program for enabling women from remote and countryside regions to engage in work in the labor market. “All these initiatives contributed to increasing the number of Saudi women working in the private sector to 565,000 by the end of 2017, representing nearly 32 percent of Saudis working in the labor market. Some initiatives have also been taken to enable them to hold key positions, achieve gender balance in these positions, and strengthen women’s leadership skills and enable them to participate in the decision-making,” he said.

Al-Ghafis affirmed that the Kingdom is keen to eliminate gender discrimination in wages and seeking to exchange experience with other countries and international organizations about the best practices in curbing such practices. “The Kingdom has taken many measures to reduce phenomena and practices that have a negative impact on the labor environment, such as violence and harassment,” he said while drawing attention to the adoption of the law to criminalize harassment by the Council of Ministers this week. The minister also pointed out that the Kingdom is keen to support global efforts aimed at integration of women into the labor market and achieving their economic, political, social and developmental empowerment.

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette

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