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UN: Women’s Empowerment & Gender Equality Lead KSA's Reforms

Earlier this week, the first regular session of the Executive Council of UN (United Nations) for Women was held remotely via Zoom. The two-day event covered matters related to economic flexibility, social protection, and economic stimulation. During the session, a member of Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Mission to the UN, Mona Alghamdi, spoke on the wave of reforms that have been introduced and great advancements that have been made with regards to women’s empowerment and gender equality in the Kingdom, and their direct effects on the nation’s economic advancement.

“Despite the great challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative effects on all aspects of life, the Kingdom continued to move toward its goals and ambitions pertaining to the economic empowerment of women. The Kingdom is witnessing major reforms and transformations,” explained Alghamdi while addressing the session’s attendees.

Indeed, in a report released last year by World Bank Group entitled “Women, Business and the Law 2020”, which was cited by Alghamdi at the recent UN for Women session, Saudi Arabia was listed as one of the top economies to have exhibited the most progress toward gender equality since 2017, as well as nations like the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, and Tunisia. Saudi Arabia was reported to have made the biggest improvement in the index, increasing by 38.8 points.

The report also highlighted the Kingdom’s efforts in various areas to improve the rights, access, and mobility of women, such as the changes to the guardianship law, resulting in Saudi Arabian women no longer needing permission from a male relative to travel abroad or obtain a passport. The Kingdom also amended its Civil Status Law, particularly with regards to the marital home, removing a former provision that made the husband’s home the default residence, as well as no longer allowing men to sue wives for leaving the marital home.

In addition, Saudi Arabia made legal amendments in 2018 that protect women from discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, and other key reforms that aim to recognize and support the role of women in growing, modernizing, and diversifying Saudi Arabia’s economy. 

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