Women’s Empowerment is an Effective Way to Drive Progress in Saudi Arabia

On March 3rd, Alwaleed Philanthropies and several partners held the 2nd Women’s Empowerment and Integration Forum in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Princess Lamia Bint Majid AlSaud, the secretary general of the Alwaleed Philanthropies, discussed the role of women in the kingdom and their capacity to shape the country’s future. She stated that “we know that women’s empowerment and integration in the workforce is one of the most effective ways of driving social and economic progress, and this goal influences a large part of our work.” Alwaleed Philanthropies was the main sponsor of the event, which was organized by Accor Hotels KSA in association with TEDx. The conference aimed to position itself as an intellectual hub and leader on topics related to diversity, inclusion and, more importantly, to contribute to supporting women’s integration within the Saudi economy and society as a whole. The forum recognized Alwaleed Philanthropies as a successful model for change and innovation from the perspective of a dynamic all-female team, which is in line with Alwaleed Philanthropies’ goals to inspire Saudi women and youth to do the most good in the most effective way possible from within their community.

Princess Lamia Bint Majid AlSaud delivers an address during the Women’s Empowerment and Integration Forum in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. March 3, 2018. Credit: Alwaleed Philanthropies

In addition, Princess Lamia gave a synopsis of Alwaleed Philanthropies’ scope promoting local initiatives and highlighted the foundation’s focus on women’s and youth empowerment. She said that “this is an extremely important moment in the work of Alwaleed Philanthropies because it allows us both to look at how far we have come in doing good and at our aspirations for a better world. As many as 1.5 million women worked in Saudi Arabia in 2015 — a number that is only set to increase when driving will allow them easier access to the workplace. This supports our country’s target of getting 30% of women active in the workforce by 2030.”

The forum enables and inspires youth and women to seek their highest level of professional development by providing them with information, strategies, insights and perspectives on leadership. The Women’s Empowerment and Integration Forum, first held in December 2016, was a collaborative effort by TEDxAlhamraaWomen, the Saudi Ministry of Labor, the General Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, the Human Resources Development Fund, the University of Business and Technology (UBT), Dar Al-Hekma University and Jeddah International College. Among the forum’s 300 attendees were dignitaries, local authorities, famous personalities, and representatives from universities, business schools and notable associations in Jeddah.

Alwaleed Philanthropies was founded in 1980 by Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz AlSaud and has supported and initiated projects in over 164 countries. The foundation collaborates with a range of philanthropic, government, and educational organizations to combat poverty, empower women and youth, develop communities, provide disaster relief and create cultural understanding through education. Princess Lamia noted that through its partnerships, the foundation believes it can build bridges for a more compassionate, tolerant and accepting world.

Salah Oumoudden, Senior Vice President of Operations at Accor Hotels KSA, Egypt, Tunisia & Algeria also commented on how regional companies can play a role in women’s economic participation: “As the leading hotel operator in Saudi Arabia we are committed to empowering young female talent, enhancing their skills and helping them reaching their full potential within the workplace. We are dedicated to hiring more than 5,000 Saudi nationals over the next five years out of which 30 percent will be made up of female employees.”

Social and economic reforms are at the fore of a bold development plan launched by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. Vision2030 was designed to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors. Advancing economic, social and educational opportunities for Saudi women and youth is a major component of Vision2030.

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