Shifting Sands of Time: Saudi Arabian Tale of Women Empowerment
Each country in the world is unique boasting of rich history of culture and tradition adding a distinct flavor and thus contributing to presence in the globe. Alongside its uniqueness, each country also has a few problematic issues as well. But invariably, it so happens that where the positives of a nation are more often overlooked or casually brushed aside, its negatives are made prominent all over the world – as if warning off everyone to stay away from knowing about it.
Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s culturally rich and traditionally well-rooted countries, often falls prey to such judgmental eyes of people from all over the world. As discussions rage about the country’s attitude towards women driving and the emphasis that it places on male family members escorting the females, there are several noteworthy and pioneering events that the nation’s authorities have been coming up with.
It wasn’t so long ago that the nation saw the appointment of the first female editor for a leading Saudi newspaper based in the port city of Jeddah. The daily, Saudi Gazette, appointed Somayya Jabarti as the chief editor, after the retirement of her predecessor Khaled Almaeena. Though the move came be widely applauded across the world, it still remained shrouded in the shadows as did the news about the country opening up the first law firm – operated by women for protection and upholding of women’s rights – in Jeddah.
To mention all of these isn’t to pinpoint how misguided some of the information about the country is, but to emphasize that the country isn’t the ‘Bogeyman for women’ as many seem to interpret it. And there are even more reasons to say and believe so considering yet another important development that is expected to come about in the region.
It’s only fair to say that the development of the first industrial urban metropolis for women in the country’s Yanbu region is one that’s quite befitting on International Women’s Day – also known as International Working Women’s Day.
Spread across 50,000 sq. meters, the metropolis will house the working women of the proposed factory to be established at Yanbu. The project, as unique as it, comes with the whole-hearted vouching and backing of the Saudi Industrial Property Authority (MODON) and offers an incomparable empowering feasibility to the working women in the country.
In addition to the factory, the metropolis will also have educational and training institutions for the women, hospitals, institutions offering essential government-oriented services and other state-of-the-art infrastructural and recreational facilities. It has also been stated that in the days to come further such city-based models will be established in the country to allow for greater empowerment of the women.
Such a decision, in all honesty, isn’t surprising at all. For a nation as deep-rooted in its cultural origins, Saudi Arabia has still never shied away from embracing the more modern enriching values and lifestyle. In their own way then, the country’s authorities are ensuring that women in their country don’t lose out on any opportunity whilst striking a very healthy balance between cultural expectations and their countrywomen’s requirements.
Image courtesy- Jonas Fornerod