At the Women’s Empowerment Summit, a G20 official highlighted Saudi success stories

by Asmaa Elwahy

Saudi Arabia’s representative has highlighted the Kingdom’s success in implementing policies to empower women at a G20 Empower conference, which wrapped up on Friday.

Ministers and other top officials from G20 members responsible for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls discussed actions to accelerate progress on achieving gender equality in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Saudi Arabia was represented by Dr. Maymouna Al-Khalil, secretary-general of the Family Affairs Council, who shared with the meeting’s participants the Kingdom’s best practices that in the past few years have made it a country with one of the world’s highest shares of women entrepreneurs.

“Women are partners alongside men in realizing the targets of Vision 2030. They are considered important contributors to reach a thriving economy, to be part of an ambitious nation,” Al-Khalil told Arab News.

“To play their roles, they are educated, they are aware, they are skilled, they have much to offer in terms of their expertise.”

Female employment levels have soared since the launching of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 diversification and transformation plan in 2016.

A 2021 report by London-based Global Entrepreneurship Monitor showed Saudi Arabia had the third-highest percentage of women holding entrepreneurial roles.

“The numbers speak volumes. Women now are leading 45 percent of (small and medium-sized enterprises) in the Kingdom and they make up 17.7 percent of those who are engaged in entrepreneurial activity,” Al-Khalil said.

“The Kingdom is also aware of the need to prepare future women leaders and to empower the current women leaders.”

During her speech at the G20 women’s empowerment conference, the Saudi representative presented a series of initiatives undertaken under Vision 2030 to close the gender gap in all sectors.

“Saudi Arabia has nearly closed the gender gap in (women’s) participation in the sectors of health and education,” she said.

“In the information and communication technology sector, a women’s empowerment program was launched in order to build a digital ecosystem that attracts, embraces, and develops talented women in technology who are capable of contributing to the digital transformation agenda in the Kingdom.”

The objectives of the program were to increase women’s participation in IT and to raise digital awareness among them, which for Al-Khalil remains “a common challenge for all nations.”

As a result of its programs to address it, Saudi Arabia has enrolled more than 47,000 women in programs for digital reskilling and upskilling, which contributed to women making up 33 percent of the Kingdom’s information and communications technology sector. 

“As the Kingdom continues to build a future where women stand shoulder-to-shoulder with men, united in their shared pursuit of a thriving and prosperous nation, it remains committed to the G20 priorities for (women’s) empowerment,” Al-Khalil said.

One of the most recent examples that she gave from the Saudi experience was of astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali Al-Qarni who in May joined the International Space Station.

Barnawi made history as the first-ever Arab female astronaut to go to the ISS.

“The sky, or space, is the limit,” Al-Khalil said. “Empowering women is not just a matter of justice, it is an economic imperative for driving growth, innovation, and sustainable development. By realizing the full potential of women, we unlock the doors to prosperity for all.”

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Top 50 Women Forum is the first platform in Egypt to work exclusively on empowering women professionals, with the purpose of strengthening their contribution development & decision-making processes.

Top 50 Women Forum is the first platform in Egypt to work exclusively on empowering women professionals, with the purpose of strengthening their contribution development & decision-making processes.