MUSCAT: Recent statistics from the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) underscore Oman’s unwavering commitment to gender equality and empowerment, exemplified by a remarkable rise in the economic engagement of Omani women.

The NCSI statistics paint a promising picture of women’s economic participation in Oman.

According to the NCSI’s special issue for the year 2023 on the labour market, the rate of economic participation among Omani women aged 15 and above surged to 32.1 percent in 2022, up from 27.7 percent the previous year.

Of particular significance is the composition of the workforce among Omani women.

The report reveals that a staggering 82 percent of economically active Omani women in 2022 were engaged in various occupations.

This figure underscores the pivotal role of Omani women as active contributors to the nation’s economic landscape.

Delving deeper into sectoral distribution, the statistics highlight a balanced representation of Omani women across both government and private sectors.

In 2022, 95,652 Omani women aged 15 and above were employed in the government sector, accounting for 41 percent of the female workforce, while 136,093 women were actively contributing to the private and civil society sectors, constituting 59 percent of the female workforce.

Furthermore, the entrepreneurial spirit among Omani women seems to have flourished, with over 14,000 female business owners making their mark in sectors such as wholesale and retail trade, as well as manufacturing industries.

These figures underscore the growing economic empowerment and autonomy enjoyed by Omani women. Education remains a cornerstone of women’s empowerment in Oman, with over 208,000 female students enrolled in school education and more than 70,000 pursuing higher education.

The declining illiteracy rate reflects concerted efforts to ensure equal access to education for women across all age groups.

This equitable distribution underscores Oman’s commitment to fostering inclusive economic opportunities for women across diverse sectors.

The surge in workforce participation among Omani women reflects not only their growing economic empowerment but also the nation’s concerted efforts to promote gender equality and women’s rights.

Under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, the government continues to champion policies and initiatives aimed at further enhancing women’s participation and advancement in the workforce.

As Oman continues its journey towards progress and inclusivity, the remarkable contributions of Omani women serve as a testament to their resilience, determination, and unwavering commitment to building a brighter future for generations to come.

Catalysts for change and progress

In the heart of Oman’s vibrant societal fabric, women stand as catalysts for change and progress. From the earliest days of Oman’s renaissance to the present era, their indomitable spirit and unwavering dedication have carved a path towards a brighter, more inclusive future.

His Majesty’s steadfast commitment to their empowerment has not only elevated their status but also paved the way for their active participation in various spheres of society.

Designated as a day of celebration on October 17 each year, Omani Women’s Day stands as a testament to their unparalleled contributions across social, economic, cultural, scientific, and political domains.

This commemoration, rooted in the noble directives of the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said, honours the invaluable role of women in driving progress and prosperity.

Challenges persists

Despite these advancements, challenges persist, particularly concerning cultural norms and societal expectations.

Her Excellency Ibtisam Ahmed Said Al Farooji, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion for Investment Promotion (MOCIIP), acknowledged these hurdles while emphasising the unwavering belief in the transformative potential of Omani women.

Highlighting the multifaceted challenges faced by Omani women, Ibtisam underscored the pervasive influence of cultural norms and societal expectations.

These barriers, while formidable, have not dimmed the unwavering belief in the intrinsic potential of Omani women to catalyse societal progress across social, economic, and political spheres.

Drawing inspiration from the visionary directives of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, Ibtisam stressed the pivotal role of women in realising Oman Vision 2040. Through strategic initiatives and policies aimed at enhancing women’s participation and equality in the workforce, Oman stands poised to harness the full spectrum of talent and expertise that Omani women bring to the table.

Of particular significance is the landmark advancements made in legislative frameworks, notably the new labour law, which champions women’s rights related to maternity, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. This milestone achievement not only acknowledges the invaluable contributions of working women but also reaffirms their right to pursue fulfilling careers while fulfilling their natural roles in society.

The strides made in political representation further underscore Oman’s unwavering commitment to gender equality.

With women comprising 18 percent of the State Council and assuming leadership positions across various sectors, Oman stands as a beacon of inclusivity and progress in the region.

Moreover, Oman’s steadfast dedication to upholding women’s rights has garnered international acclaim, with the Sultanate’s efforts recognised by the Human Rights Council and the Committee of Experts in following up on the CEDAW Convention.

These accolades serve as a witness to Oman’s unwavering commitment to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment on the global stage. Ibtisam highlighted the strides made by the Sultanate of Oman in advancing the status and economic rights of Omani women.

She emphasised the absence of discrimination in financial allocations and salaries based on gender, distinguishing Oman from other nations. Furthermore, Oman does not impose restrictions on women’s participation in economic activities, granting them the freedom to establish companies, access credit, and engage in commercial endeavours.

Ibtisam underscored the significance of the Social Protection Law, which extends legal safeguards to women across various life stages and circumstances, including unmarried individuals, widows, housewives, and the elderly. These legal provisions serve to fortify women’s rights and bolster their empowerment within Omani society.

In her impassioned remarks, Dr. Badriya bint Ibrahim Al Shehi, former Vice President of the State Council, writer, and esteemed novelist, provided profound insights into the challenges and opportunities facing Omani women. With a distinguished career spanning academia, literature, and public service, Dr. Badriya is widely revered for her intellectual prowess and unwavering commitment to advancing women’s rights and empowerment.

Don’t limit women to traditional roles

Dr. Badriya acknowledged the pivotal role of women in shaping society, emphasising their fundamental contribution to raising future generations and nurturing societal values.

However, she cautioned against limiting women solely to traditional roles, urging for greater opportunities and avenues for women to pursue their ambitions and aspirations. Recognising the complex socio-economic challenges facing Oman and the broader global community, Dr. Badriya underscored the importance of empowering women to transcend societal barriers and fulfil their potential in diverse fields.

Dr. Badriya said that Omani women have demonstrated a profound awareness of their values and traditions while actively engaging in various spheres of public life.

She celebrated the strides made by Omani women in securing prominent positions in government and beyond, citing their effectiveness, empowerment, and ability to excel in diverse roles.

Dr. Badriya stressed the imperative of gender equality as enshrined in Oman’s Basic Law, which guarantees women’s rights and equal opportunities in employment, healthcare, and other domains.

By advocating for the full participation of women in society, she reiterated the importance of diversity and inclusivity in driving societal progress and prosperity.

In conclusion, the journey of Omani women towards empowerment and equality is one marked by resilience, determination, and unwavering commitment. As they continue to break barriers and defy expectations, Omani women emerge as architects of change, heralding a new era of progress and inclusivity in the Sultanate.

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