NEW YORK — Saudi Arabia has affirmed its commitment to achieve real and effective empowerment of women and to enable them to perform their role in building the Kingdom alongside their male counterparts without any discrimination.

The remarks came during a speech delivered Mohammed Al-Ateeq, acting charge d'affaires at Saudi Arabia’s permanent delegation to the UN, at the annual meeting of the Executive Council of the United Nations Women and Gender Equality.

He said that the Kingdom has appreciated the report that was issued on the implementation of the strategic plan 2018-2021, which many governments have aligned in line with their directions in order to achieve the goals of empowering women.

In the past few years, Saudi Arabia has made several reforms in the field of human rights, but the one area that has received the greatest attention was women's rights.

The Kingdom has issued many new laws or amended existing laws, regulations and legal bases, through which it ensured the enhancement of women's rights and empowerment on an equal basis with their male counterparts. The most prominent of these laws are: the civil status law, the labor law, the social insurance law, the traffic law (Muroor) and the travel document law.

Al-Ateeq indicated that Saudi Arabia has been classified, according to the World Bank’s Women, Business and Law (WBL) Report for the years 2020 and 2021, respectively, as one of the topmost countries in the world in implementing reforms to laws and regulations related to women, and this came as a result of the accelerated reforms undertaken by the Kingdom to empower Saudi women.

While Saudi Arabia achieved a full score of 100 in five indicators — mobility, workplace, entrepreneurship, retirement, and wages — the economic participation rate of Saudi females increased during the 3 years from 2017 to 2020 by 94%.

Through the journey undertaken by Saudi Arabia to increase the empowerment of women in the business and economy sectors, it has taken a number of special measures to achieve equality between women and men in various fields by launching several initiatives with the aim of accelerating tangible and effective achievements in this regard, the most prominent of which are:

The initiatives launched by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD) to empower women such as:

1 - Women empowerment.

2 - The National Platform for Saudi Women Leaders, in cooperation with Princess Nora Bint Abdulrahman University, as the number of women registered on the platform reached 9,077 users.

3 - The Qurrah program that supports the children's hospitality service for working women, as the beneficiaries of the program reached 1,044 by the Q3 (third quarter) of 2021.

3 - The Wusool program which supports the transfer and mobility of working women, as the number of women who benefited from the program reached (13,950) by the third quarter of 2021.

4 - The free-ancing program, which expands the circle of opportunities for females, which also contributes to increasing their income according to their skills.

5 - The "part-time work" and "telework" programs that contribute to enabling women to achieve a balance between their work and their families, in addition to enabling women in rural and remote areas to engage in the labor market.

The MHRSD has also launched several other initiatives, such as the Human Resources Development Fund "Hadaf", which in turn launched several initiatives, including Tamheer Program, on-the-job training program for Saudi graduates, whose number of beneficiaries reached 70,000 until 2019.

The Doroob platform, which is a national e-training platform, in which the percentage of women reached 53.8% in the Q2 (second quarter) of 2021.

As for the Employment Support Program, through which the Fund provides financial support for targeted qualitative employment, the number of beneficiaries reached approximately 115,491.

Reforms in the Kingdom have resulted in Saudi women’s access to high positions. They currently occupy leadership and supervisory positions in a number of ministries, government institutions, universities and many others.

Al-Ateeq confirmed that the percentage of women in senior and middle management positions increased from 28.6% in 2017 to 41.4% in the first quarter of 2021.

As for politics, Al-Ateeq reiterated that Saudi women are considered active partners in political and public life in the Kingdom through their decision-making, election, and even nominations.

The number of working women in the council has reached 97, in addition to women's participation in municipal elections, candidacy and election to the Council of Chambers of Commerce.

On the international level, Saudi women have held high international positions over the years through their participation in international and regional organizations.

Saudi women have held high international positions such as in the United Nations, where a Saudi woman held the position of Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, while the Saudi woman have also held the position of Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization, in addition to her participation in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the University of Arab countries, and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf.

Al-Ateeq explained that the rate of women's enrollment in the telecommunications sector had increased by 24.9% by the end of the first half of 2021.

This came due to the women's empowerment program in the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, which aims to increase their participation in the digital sector, as well as enable them to reach leadership positions in the sector.

He also added that the economic participation rate of Saudi females has also been increased due to the activation of the (Private Sector Alliance Initiative to Empower and Support Women’s Economic Representation) in the G20 to advance women in leadership positions by encouraging companies to commit and pledge to support women’s access to senior positions in their institutions and encourage other companies to join.

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