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20,000 women benefit from Saudi Arabia’s Wusool program

11/06/2021

RIYADH: The number of Saudi female employees to benefit from the Human Resources Development Fund’s (Hadaf) transportation program has topped 20,000.

Under the Wusool program women can receive an 80 percent discount on the cost of each trip to work. The ceiling of support was increased to SR1,100 ($293) a month for those with a monthly wage not exceeding SR6,000, and SR800 for workers earning between SR6,001 and SR8,000.

The initiative aims to reduce transport costs for Saudi female workers in the private sector by providing them with subsidized high-quality, safe, and secure travel-to-work services, in partnership with taxi companies, through licensed smart apps.

The scheme, designed to increase the participation of women in the labor market and provide job stability, covers 13 regions of the Kingdom and women working in the private sector can visit http://wusool.sa to register.

This article was first published in Arab News

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KSA Fashion Commission backs luxury designs with 100 Saudi Brands program

04/06/2021

The program will help build 100 Saudi brands that are able to compete regionally and internationally. (Screenshot)

The authority invited those wishing to take part in the program to register before June 20
The program offers a one-year package of training and guidance programs

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Fashion Commission has launched the “100 Saudi Brands” program, which aims to support the business development of 100 Saudi designers and luxury brands, providing Saudi fashion products with international competitive standards.
The authority invited those wishing to take part in the program to register via the website https://saudi100brands.com before June 20.
The program offers a one-year package of training and guidance programs, and includes sessions for groups and individuals, along with virtual and physical training workshops to develop competitive business advantages in the Saudi fashion industry.
Course topics will include brand review and mentoring, training in defining brand concepts, sales performance strategies, public relations and marketing strategies, methods for finding and identifying particular clients, innovations, technology and leadership skills.
The program’s stages include activities presented to the consumer to encourage sales in the local market, the first of which will be held in Riyadh in December, the activation of electronic sales outlets in January, and a campaign targeting wholesales in order to activate international sales in February.
The program will help build 100 Saudi brands that are able to compete regionally and internationally, within the framework of the Fashion Commission to develop the fashion sector in the Kingdom in all its legislative and regulatory aspects, and to support and empower its workers, including creators and investors.

This article was first published in Arab News

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How Saudi Arabia pioneered the employment of women

Getting women into jobs is one of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s most important goals.

According to the Saudi statistics agency, the participation rate for women rose from 19% in 2016 to 33% in 2020.

It’s a phenomenon, from the big cities to the more conservative provinces, you see women working as cashiers, waitresses, shop assistants, and even policewomen.

In a few sectors, however, men still dominate. For example, for every Saudi woman, there are approximately 18 Saudi men in the mining sector.

However, in areas like health, arts, and hospitality, the ratio is now one to one.

The Ministry of Culture is a good example of the far-reaching change in recent years.

In 2016 only a few women worked there, now 49% of the 667 employees are women.

And the proportion of women in the Saudi labour market will continue to rise over the next few years.

Author: own staff

Arab world among top gender diversity improvers, survey shows

Time: 27 May 2021

Rania Nashar, Samba Financial Group CEO, was Saudi Arabia’s first female chief executive. (File/AFP)

71 percent of MENA companies made progress on gender diversity
MENA ranked last in female representation on boards

TEXAS: Organizations in the Middle East and North Africa are among those to have made the most progress in gender distribution over the past five years, according to a survey by CEO community YPF.
In the MENA region, 71 percent of companies have made progress in this area, second only to Latin America at 73 percent, and ahead of South Asia at 68 percent, YPF said in its first Global Chief Executive Gender Equality Survey of 2,079 CEOs from 106 countries.
YPF’s sample included 23 percent female CEOs, which compares with a global figure of 5 percent, it said.
The report showed that gender inequality increases with seniority. While 39 percent of employees at respondent companies were female, 30 percent of senior management were women and 20 percent of board directors.
However, there has been considerable progress on the measure in the past five years with 24 percent reporting a “somewhat more diverse” board of directors in that time frame and 16 percent “significantly more diverse.” Among senior managers, the respective numbers are 34 percent and 18 percent.


Companies in the Middle East and North Africa have the least gender diverse boards, the survey showed. However, while just 16 percent of directors were women in the MENA region, the figure was not much better in Europe (21 percent) and the US (20 percent).
“There are a lot of things to be done to encourage the empowerment of women,” Reem Osman, CEO of Saudi German Hospital Group, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “As the data shows, having more women in the C-suite is empowering more women, giving women more senior positions and recruiting more women.”
Companies globally with women on the board are more likely than their male-led counterparts (46 percent vs. 37 percent) to offer services that help women reach the top, such as female leadership and mentoring programs, the survey showed. Almost one third of female CEOs offered flexible work arrangements at their companies compared with 21 percent for male respondents.
The biggest obstacle for CEOs in the MENA region was a lack of mentors, with 51 percent citing that as the main challenge compared with 36 percent in the rest of the world.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Alwaleed Philanthropies & Princess Lamia launch brand to support female artisans

Time: 05 May 2021

SARAH JOSEPH

Alwaleed Philanthropies, founded by His Royal Highness Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, has launched a new homegrown brand in support of Saudi female artisans.

The project entitled Mizwada is also being spearheaded by Alwaleed Philanthropies’ Secretary-General, Her Royal Highness Princess Lamia bint Majed Al Saud.

While being known for her role as a philanthropist in society, Princess Lamia has previously shared her desire to change the world, and the newly launched brand, Mizwada aims to work with female artisans in order to promote the concept of locally resources materials, which reflect the Kingdom’s heritage.

From creating purposeful goods to handcrafted lifestyle pieces, Mizwada stands as an ode to revive Saudi Arabia’s ancestral past by using products such as leather goods, woodwork, and ceramics, to reflect the main cultural symbolism.

Discussing the launch of Mizwada, Princess Lamia explained that there were key challenges that need to be addressed.

“Two key challenges are clear among this sector, unemployment, and the lack of adequate skills training,” she said. “We must work together to overcome these through programs that place women and girls at the heart of their initiatives.

“Our artisans produce products of a high quality and standard, with each product going through a lengthy process of quality control, resulting in products with the best quality and perfect finishing. They are modern objects, but do, however, translate our history and heritage.”

The brand was born with the purpose to preserve its traditional heritage, making it the perfect partnership between Alwaleed Philanthropies and Teeb, as they are a pioneer in supporting women in the region by providing them with economic opportunities by reaching more than 1 billion beneficiaries globally.

By collaborating with the local app in Saudi Arabia – PIK, the products can be purchased and delivered to customers in Riyadh city along with the Teeb online platform.

This article was first published in Emirates Woman

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‘Just chase your dream,’ Farah Jefry, footballer and Adidas brand ambassador, tells Saudi girls

Time: 20 April 2021

Last December, the Kingdom held its very first Women’s Football League, with 24 teams from all over the Saudi Arabia competing for the honor of being the first side to take home the spoils of victory
RIYADH: Saudi sportswomen have come a long way in the past few years. Victories large and small have been hard-won in the past decade, and the Kingdom’s female population is showing no signs of slowing down.
Saudi women across the country are exploring new ways of being active, with some even choosing to take on their brothers at football, not knowing the opportunities that could arise from it.
One of the most notable names in Saudi sports is none other than the Kingdom’s current ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar. Before her diplomatic engagement, Princess Reema served as the General Sports Authority’s (GSA) deputy of planning and development, where she led diversity and inclusion, the development of the Kingdom’s sports economy, and strategic partnerships.
Last December, the Kingdom held its very first Women’s Football League, with 24 teams from all over the Saudi Arabia competing for the honor of being the first side to take home the spoils of victory.
And last Monday, Saudi women in sport gained yet another victory as one of their own landed the sponsorship deal of a lifetime. Adidas announced that the company had signed Jeddah Eagles’ midfielder Farah Jefry as a brand ambassador, making her the first Saudi sportswoman to represent it in the Middle East.
Jefry, 18, who started playing football a decade ago, told Arab News she had always dreamt of playing professionally, and that being singled out by Adidas to represent the German sports brand was a great honor.
“Adidas is such a well-known company, and I’m happy to be part of the family. Hopefully, this will pave the way for other Saudi female footballers in the future,” she said of the appointment.

Don’t be discouraged by people or opinions — there might be some obstacles, but at the end it is all worth it.

Farah Jefry, Jeddah Eagles’ midfielder

For Jefry, reaching this point in her career was not always easy, even if she had known she wanted to play since she was a child.
“I have been training with the Jeddah Eagles Ladies’ Football Club for almost 3 years,” she said. “At first it was tough because I was one of the youngest members on the team and playing with people who were a lot more experienced compared to me.”
However, Jefry took the experience as an opportunity to learn from the team’s older members, in addition to practicing at home to improve her basic skills.
“It has become a lifestyle now, and walking around with a football all day is normal for me nowadays,” she said.
According to Jefry, the hardest part of being a professional footballer is maintaining consistency, another reason she believes it important to practice as much as possible.
Jefry also counts herself lucky to have a great support system in the form of her family and friends, and says that those closest to her have always known how badly she wanted to play football at a professional level, doing whatever they could to help her make that dream a reality.
However, she says that she has had to deal with her fair share of critics, particularly those who think that there is no room for women in the sport.
“Many people keep telling me that this sport isn’t for women. However, the way I view it is that this sport isn’t for a specific gender; just like any other sport, at the end of the day I’m doing what I love and I shouldn’t be judged based on the fact that I am a woman,” she told Arab News.
She also has advice for other Saudi girls who want to be part of what she calls a “beautiful” journey.
“Don’t be discouraged by people or opinions — there might be some obstacles, but at the end it is all worth it. If you’re passionate enough just chase your dream. Everything else will align with that sooner or later,” she said.

This article was first published in Arab News

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A Seat at the Table: In Conversation with H.R.H. Princess Reema bint Bandar, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United States

Time: 07 April 2021

This article was first published in Calchamber Advocacy 

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Women politicians on the rise but more must be done

Time: 06 April 2021


The coronavirus disease remains a challenge for women health-wise, economically and socially. (AFP)

March is the month of women. Starting with International Women’s Day on March 8, the month also sees the annual session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the largest UN gathering on gender equality (March 15-26), during which the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) releases its “Women in Politics” report. This year, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also marked the month with a milestone achievement: The launch of its specialized Women Development Organization (WDO).
The reports and indications presented at this year’s CSW65 highlighted some progress for women, but also reflected great concern due to some setbacks, especially as a result of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The two-week virtual gathering — held under the theme “Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls” — ended with the adoption by UN member states of the “Agreed Conclusions.” These recognize the need to significantly accelerate the pace of progress to ensure women’s full participation and leadership at all levels of decision-making in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and in the public sector. They also recognized that temporary special measures, such as quotas and increased political will, are needed as an enabling pathway to this goal.
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) remains a challenge for women — health-wise, economically and socially. The Agreed Conclusions acknowledge that the pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities that perpetuate multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, as well as racism, stigmatization and xenophobia. The data shows that women have been mostly absent from COVID-19 government task forces around the world (they make up only 24 percent of the 225 task force members examined across 137 countries). Such disproportionate representation will hamper women’s recovery from the pandemic, thus prolonging their hardships, considering that COVID-19 has had a staggering impact on women — from their roles as front-line healthcare workers to the loss of jobs, particularly as the informal sector shrinks, and the alarming spike in domestic violence and the unpaid care burden, which threatens to push 47 million additional women into extreme poverty.
Meanwhile, the IPU-UN Women map of women in politics 2021, which provides global rankings of women in executive, government and parliamentary positions as of Jan. 1, shows all-time highs for the number of countries with female heads of state or heads of government (up to 22 countries from 20 last year, with Europe being the region with the most countries led by women) and the global share of women ministers, especially in Europe and the Americas. While women ministers continue to dominate the portfolios covering social, family and women’s affairs, there has been a slight increase in their share of traditionally male-led ministerial portfolios such as defense (up from 11.9 percent to 13.5 percent) and finance (from 10.1 percent to 11.5 percent), plus a significant increase in foreign affairs (from 16.8 percent to 26 percent).
However, despite the growing number of women at the highest levels of political power, widespread gender inequalities persist. Progression among women holding ministerial portfolios has slowed, with a small increase from 21.3 percent in 2020 to 21.9 percent in 2021; the number of countries with no women in government has increased from nine to 12; and only 25.5 percent of national parliamentarians are women, compared to 24.9 percent last year. The ranking of the regions in terms of the percentage of women in parliament is: The Americas (32.2 percent), Europe with the Nordic countries (30.5 percent), Europe without the Nordic countries (29.1 percent), Sub-Saharan Africa (25.1 percent), Asia (20.8 percent), the Middle East and North Africa (19.3 percent), and the Pacific (18 percent). The countries that have the highest percentage of women in parliament are Rwanda (61.3 percent), Cuba (53.4 percent) and the UAE (50 percent).
Although Saudi Arabia is among the countries that have no women in government, and the percentage of women in the Shoura Council remains at 20 percent, the Kingdom has made tremendous progress toward women’s empowerment, including making laws that eliminate discrimination against women, protect them from violence and support their full and effective participation in development at all levels. Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 includes the National Transformation Program, which aimed to increase the rate of female participation in the labor market to 25 percent in 2020. This target was exceeded, with the country achieving 31 percent by the end of last year, with Saudi women assuming many leadership positions in various fields.
Meanwhile, the OIC has also gained traction on the road to female empowerment. On March 24, the Ministerial Council of the OIC’s WDO adopted its internal rules and regulations, thus setting it up to start operating. Taking off during an exceptional year, with circumstances that will have a long-term impact, the WDO has its work cut out for it. In addition to the factors highlighted in the CSW and IPU reports, women in many of the 57 member countries of the OIC (currently only 15 of them are members of the WDO) are also severely affected by conflict, instability, underdevelopment, terrorism and extremism, which not only hamper their participation in public life but also threaten their lives.

Despite the growing number of women at the highest levels of political power, widespread gender inequalities persist.

Maha Akeel

Numbers and percentages do not give the full picture and they can be misleading. More important than the number of women in parliament or their percentage in government and the portfolios they hold is the role they actually play, the contributions they make and their engagement in decision-making. Political, cultural, social and legislative barriers continue to hinder women’s full and effective participation in the development of societies worldwide. More concrete measures need to be taken at all levels of government and society that will enable women to play a more active role in decision-making.

Maha Akeel is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. Twitter: @MahaAkeel1
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi fund gives women travel expense increase for daily commute

Time: 05 April 2021

The program was also extended to two years from the original 12 months. (File/Shutterstock)

The Saudi Human Resources Development Fund (HADAF) raised the financial support offered by the “Wusool” program to SR1100 monthly ($293)
RIYADH: A fund that provides financial assistance for Saudi women to get to work has been extended.

The Saudi Human Resources Development Fund (HADAF) raised the financial support offered by the “Wusool” program to SR1100 monthly ($293) from SR800 for those earning SR6000 or less, Al Eqtisadiah newspaper reported. The grant covers up to 80 percent of commute costs.

It comes as the government ushers in a number of reforms aimed at boosting the number of women at work.
The program was also extended to two years from the original 12 months, the newspaper said.
Transport is provided through companies licensed by the Ministry of Transport to ensure the safety of users.
The program covers 13 regions across the Kingdom, consisting of Riyadh, Makkah, the Eastern Province, Al Madinah, Tabuk, Asir, Qassim, Hail, Jizan, the Northern Borders, Najran, Al-Jouf, and Al-Baha.

This article was first published in Arab News

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7 winners of Princess Seetah bint Abdul Aziz Award for excellence in social work honored at ceremony

Time: 05 April 2021

The winners of the Princess Seetah bint Abdul Aziz Award, selected from 404 applications, received their honors during a socially distanced virtual ceremony broadcast live via YouTube
RIYADH: A group of seven winners have been awarded a prestigious Saudi accolade for their excellence in social work during the coronavirus pandemic.

The winners of the Princess Seetah bint Abdul Aziz Award, selected from 404 applications, received their honors during a socially distanced virtual ceremony broadcast live via YouTube.

Each award winner delivered a short video presentation explaining their social work initiatives over the last year and how they were able to provide aid to people throughout the Kingdom suffering the financial, health, and social effects of the global virus outbreak.

Held in the luxury surroundings of the Prince Sultan Grand Hall at Al-Faisaliah Hotel in Riyadh, the awards ceremony and celebratory lunch was restricted to just winners and their main contributors due to COVID-19 precautionary measures.

Secretary-general of the social work awards, Fahad Al-Maghlouth, said: “There is room for hope and giving, and today we celebrate to honor the winners of the Princess Seetah bint Abdul Aziz Award for excellence in social work in its eighth session, and we have the right to be proud of them.”

The theme of this year’s awards was “social work in the face of crises and dangers,” and winners were congratulated by Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Saud, Ahmed Al-Rajhi, the chairman of the board of the Princess Seetah Foundation and Saudi minister of human resources and social development, and Al-Maghlouth.

Al-Rajhi said: “Our dear country has remained proud with its advanced developmental achievements and its sincere and honorable humanitarian stances when difficulties intensify, challenges emerge, and tribulations besiege us, despite all the difficult circumstances the world has experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This country, by the grace of God, and then through the efforts of our wise leadership, was a model for the concept of a strong state with its ambitions, ready for crises with all its energies, prepared in terms of the readiness of its infrastructures, support for the people on its land and everywhere. Do we not have the right to feel proud and pride?”

The minister also highlighted the Saudi green project that aims to invest in promoting quality of life and support for those in need.

“The project targets remote areas and needy families, and works on development, training, and support in accordance with specific environmental programs throughout the year in coordination with the relevant authorities … to improve social conditions and environmental living for citizens and families to help them lead a decent and productive life.”

The program titled, “The Green Project: Together to Support Green Saudi Arabia” assists in career development, year-round training, city development, and environmental growth.

Addressing the awards ceremony, Al-Rajhi noted the importance of social work in contributing to the development of the Kingdom and he praised King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for making “human stability their top priority.”

Al-Maghlouth said the award winners were shining examples of the “generosity and loyalty without limits” shown by the nation, adding that “the most amazing achievements are when they carry human touches that rejoice hearts and draw smiles and inspire optimism and confirm the depth of cohesion between the sons of the nation and its leadership.”

Following the speeches, a video presentation documented some of the health, bereavement, and financial challenges being faced by the world from the COVID-19 pandemic and how collaborative schemes such as track-and-trace apps, humanitarian aid, and financial assistance had helped to ease hardships.

The category winners were:

The excellence in national achievement award went to the health ministry’s volunteering program and education ministry’s distance learning digital platform Madrasati (my school).

The Madrasti system helped more than 5 million public and 1 million private students from 900 schools throughout the Kingdom forced to close during the pandemic.

The General Authority for Endowments scooped the excellence in Islamic endowment accolade for helping to mitigate the effects of the virus on people through its humanitarian initiatives.

The Madinah Al-Munawarah NGO was presented with the excellence in social work award for its good city initiative.

Sheikh Abdullah Ibrahim Al-Subeaei received the excellence for social work entrepreneurs honor for setting up a charitable institution and donating money to various causes in the Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Advanced Petrochemical Co. was awarded the corporate social responsibility award for pandemic projects, and Sadara Chemical Co. for its work with the health sector in tackling COVID-19.

The late Princess Seetah bint Abdul Aziz was known for her generosity and compassion toward those in need, running numerous social assistance programs.

This article was first published in Arab News

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