Time: March 20, 2018
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is opening a new page in its history, Sophie Le Ray, founder of the WIL Series, said as she opened the Women’s Economic Forum in Riyadh on Monday.
Le Ray said that the GCC countries were creating jobs and making it easier and more socially acceptable for women to join the workforce. Saudi Arabia was opening a new page in its history, making remarkable social changes and highlighting its determination to move forward to a more prosperous future, she said.
“The empowerment of women is one of the keys to the modernization objectives set out in the ambitious Vision 2030 and National Transformation Program,” she said.
“Economic performance, innovation, creativity and the economic landscape of the Arab world will be transformed by the skills, talents and labors of women.”
Ten years ago, this inaugural forum was held in Dubai, only attended by women, she said. “Ten years later, we have both genders from all over the world to discuss and champion diversity. It’s a community which is captivating everyone.”
“Empowering women and moving toward a more inclusive society is just smart economics. We are past the point of just conversation, today is about action,” she said.
With 900 people registered to the attend the forum, the attendees were looking forward to hearing from the panel of speakers. A student studying at Dar Al-Hekma University flew in from Jeddah to attend. “I’m very excited to attend and learn,” she said.
She said that she looked forward to finishing her B.A, then masters, and the hopefully would open her own company.
Hadley Gamble, a reporter for CNBC, said: “Men must be our allies; we can work together and change this dynamic and narrative.”
She added: “We can’t understate the importance of what Mohammed bin Salman did.”
Yasser Mufti, vice president, strategy and market analysis at Saudi Aramco, said: “Aramco has made much progress in gender diversity. I went back to marketing, in Aramco Trading, and became a CEO. There was a significant change, one third of the floor were women; we had 170 female employees in Dhahran in various sectors.”
“Seize the opportunity you are given” is the crucial piece of advice that he has given to women and also male counterparts. “With determination you will succeed, and inshallah make Vision 2030 a reality.”
“This can’t be about quotas, it’s about empowering women and hiring women and putting them in management positions. Hire the right people for your team. We have a lot of educated women and it’s going to be tough to choose. We are going to need our male allies to come to the floor and help us with that.”